Chris got this shot yesterday of Chambo, TZ-065. We first identified Chambo seven years ago (literally: 12th Nov 2012) at the very start of our work at Mafia Island.
Since then, Chambo has been spotted every year – 58 times so far! Over that time he’s grown from an immature to a full adult male, which means that at this stage he’s probably at least 25 years old.
How do I know? Well, I don’t. But my friend Dr Rui Matsumoto and colleagues published a scientific paper earlier this year on a male whale shark, Jinta, that has been housed in Okinawa Aquarium for 23 years. From 1995 to 2018 Jinta grew from 4.6 m to 8.7 m, becoming an adult at 8.5 m.
Whale sharks are born at ~40-60 cm in length, so Jinta was probably already several years old in 1995.
This season, we’re hoping to refine wild growth rates for Mafia Island whale sharks, allowing us to get a better idea of age at adulthood and their maximum age (best guess right now is ~130 yrs, thanks to Cameron Perry’s MSc work).
More on that another day 🙂
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