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Behaviour of a whale shark under a typhoon

A Brief Communication about the behavior of a whale shark under the typhoon event by a research group from Organization for Marine Science and Technology, Nagasaki University, Kagoshima City Aquarium, and Hokkaido University has been published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

Tropical cyclones are large-scale meteorological event that greatly disturb the surface layer of the ocean. Sharks living in coral reefs are known to seek refuge in deeper waters when a tropical cyclone approaches. In September 2019, when the whale shark kept at the Kagoshima City Aquarium were returned to the ocean, it was equipped with a bio-logging package to study its behavior after being released. During 7 days deployment, a typhoon (Tapah) passed through western of Kyushu, so we were able to record the behavior of the whale shark under the influence of the typhoon. Before the typhoon approached, the whale shark mainly swam near the surface, but when the typhoon approached, they dove to a depth of 90 meters and stayed there until the typhoon passed. The bio-logging package also recorded long period waves caused by the typhoon swell, indicating that the typhoon’s effects even reached such depths. Local weather conditions have not been taken into account when analyzing long-term behavioral data of fishes. Knowing the effects of large-scale weather events such as typhoons on fish behavior will provide insights of the factors that caused changes in fish behavior when analyzing such data.

Nakamura I, Tsuchida H, Tone K, Sasaki A, Kawabe R (2021)
Behavioural response of a whale shark during the passage of a typhoon.
Journal of Fish Biology, DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14892