de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Whale shark, Rhincodon typus (Orectolobifoms: Rhincodontidae) feeding aggregations in Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Juan Diego Pacheco-Polanco, David Herra-Miranda, Lenin Oviedo-Correa, Wagner Quirós-Pereira, Christine Figgener



The zooplanktivorous whale shark (Rhincodon typus), is the largest living chondrichthyan and a cosmopolitan species, living in tropical, warm and temperate waters. It is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is known for big aggregations in many parts of the world. These are associated with particular oceanographic features where primary productivity is thought to be high. For the first time, four whale shark feeding aggregations are documented in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, a tropical fjord-like embayment located in the south Pacific region of the country. Observations were made in January and August 2009, March 2012 and in January 2013, Estimated group structure and size remained constant over time with an equal proportion of adults and juveniles in the same area. These aggregations were observed on the north-western coast of Golfo Dulce’s inner basin, close to the Rincón and Tigre rivers. These two rivers are known to provide organic material which area important nutrients for the gulf zooplanktonic communities. During one of the observed feeding aggregations, copepods (Order: Calanoida) were seen in the water close to feeding individuals. Given the vulnerability of whale sharks, management decisions for Golfo Dulce need to include strategies to control tourism, boat circulation, commercial and sports fisheries and coastal development. 



Whale shark, Rhincodon typus, feeding behavior, oceanographic features, Golfo Dulce, zooplanktivorous, habitat use.


Brooks, K., Rowat, D., Simon, S. J., Jouannet, D., & Vely, M. (2010). Seeing Spots: Photo identification as a Regional Tool for Whale Shark Identification. Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marina Science, 9(2), 185-194.

Cárdenas-Palomo, N., Silveira, J. R., & Reyes, O. (2010). Distribución espacio temporal de variables fisicoquímicas y biológicas en el hábitat del tiburón ballena Rhincodon typus (Orectolobiformes: Rhincodontidae) al norte del Caribe Mexicano. Revista de Biología Tropical, 58(1), 399-412.

Castro, A. L., Stewart, B. S., Wilson, S. G., Hueter, R. E., Meekan, M. G., Motta, P. J., … Karl, S. A. (2007). Population genetic structure of earths largest fish, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Molecular Ecology, 16, 5183-5192.

Cliff, G., Anderson-Reade, M. D., Aitken, A. P., Charter, G. E., & Peddemors, V. M. (2007). Aerial census of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) on the northern Kwazulu-Natal coast, South Africa. Fisheries Research, 84(1), 41-46.

Colman, J. G. (1997). A review of the biology and ecology of the whale shark. Journal of Fish Biology, 51, 1219-1234.

Duffy, C. A. (2002). Distribution, seasonality, lengths, and feeding behaviour of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) observed in New Zealand waters. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 36, 565-570.

Eckert S. A. & Stewart, B. S. (2001). Telemetry and satellite tracking of whale shark, Rhincodon typus, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico and the North Pacific Ocean. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 60, 299-308.

Fowler. S. L. (2000). Whale Shark Rincodon typus Policy and research scoping study. Nature Conservation Bureau: Newbury, U. K.

Graham, R. T., Roberts, C. M., & Smart, J. C. (2006). Diving behaviour of whale sharks in relation to a predictable food pulse. Journal of Royal Society, 3, 109-116.

Hacohen-Domené, A., Galván-Magaña, F., & Ketchum-Mejia, J. (2006). Abundance of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) preferred prey species in the southern Gulf of California, Mexico. Cybium, 30(4), 99-102.

Heyman, W., Graham, R. T., Kjerfve, B., & Johannes, R. E. (2001). Whale shark Rhincodon typus aggregate to feed on fish spawn in Belize. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 215, 275-282.

Hobbs, J. P., Hamanaka, T., McDonald, C. A., Gilligan, J. J., & Neilson, J. (2009). Seasonal aggregation of juvenile whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Coral Reef, 28, 577.

Holmberg, J., Norman, B., & Arzoumanian, Z. (2009). Estimating population size, structure, and residency time for whale shark Rhincodon typus through collaborative photo identification. Endangered Species Research, 7, 39-53.

Jonahson, M. & Harding, S. (2007). Occurrence of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Madagascar. Fisheries Research, 84(1), 132-135.

Ketchum, J. T., Galván-Magaña, F., & Klimley, A. P. (2013). Segregation and foranging ecology of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the southwestern Gulf of California. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 96(6), 779-795.

McKinney, J. A., Hoffmayer, E .R., Wu, W., Fulford, R., & Hendon, J. M. (2012). Feeding habitat of the whale shark Rhincodon typus in the northern Gulf of Mexico determined using species distribution modeling. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 458, 199-211.

Motta, P. J., Maslanka, M., Hueter, R. E., Davis, R. L., Parra, R., Mulvany, S. L., … Zeigler, L. D. (2010). Feeding anatomy, filter-feeding rate, and diet of whale shark Rhincodon typus during surface ram filter feeding off Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Zoology, 113, 199-212.

Norman, B. (2005). Rhincodon typus. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012. (Version 2012.2). Retrieved from

Pacheco- Polanco, J. D. & Oviedo, L. (2007). Determinación Preliminar de Hábitat Crítico de Alimentación del Delfín Nariz de Botella (Tursiops truncatus) en Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Abstract book of the VII Venezuelan Congress of Ecology. Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela.

Parra-Venegas, R., Hueter, R., González-Cano, J., Tyminski, J., Remolina, J. G., Maslanka, M., Ortos, A., Weigt, L., Carlson, B. & Dove, A. (2011). An unprecedent aggregation of whale shark, Rhincodon typus, in Mexican coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea. Plos One 6(4), 1-8.

Quesada-Alpízar, M. A. & Morales-Ramírez, A. (2006). Comportamiento de las masas de agua en el Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica durante El Niño (1997-1998). Revista de Biología Tropical, 52(2), 95-103.

Riley, M. J., Hale, M. S., Harman, A., & Rees, R. G. (2010). Analysis of whale shark Rhincodon typus aggregations near South Ari Atoll, Maldives Archipelago. Aquatic Biology, 8, 145-150.

Robinson, D. V., Jaidah, M. Y., Jabado, R. W., Brooks, K. L., Nour, N.,M., … Ormond, R. F. (2013). Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, aggregate around offshore platforms in Qatari waters of the Arabian Gulf to feed on fish spawn. Plos One, 8(3), 1-10.

Romanov, E. V. (2002). Bycatch in the tuna purse-seine fisheries of the western Indian Ocean. Fishery Bulletin, 100, 90-105.

Rowat, D., Speed, C. W., Meekan, M. G., Gore, M. A., & Bradshaw, C. J. (2009). Population abundance and apparent survival of the vulnerable whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in the Seychelles aggregation. The International Journal of Conservation, 43(4), 591-598.

Rowat, D., Meekan, M. G., Engelhardt, U., Pardigon, B., & Vely, M. (2007). Aggregations of juvenile whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 80, 465-472.

Silas, E. G., (1986). The whale shark (Rhincodon typus Smith) in Indian coastal waters: is the species endangered or vulnerable? Indian Council of Agricultural Research Technical Extension Series, 66, 1-19.

Spongberg, A. & Davis, P. (1998). Organochlorinated pesticide contaminants in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Revista Biología Tropical, 46(6), 111-124.

Stevens, J. D. (2007). Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) biology and ecology: A review of primary literature. Fisheries Research, 84, 4-9.

Svendsen, H., Rosland, R., Myking, S., Vargas, J. A., Lizano, O. G., & Alfaro, E. C. (2006). A physical oceanographic study of Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 54(1), 147-170.

Theberge, M. M. & Dearden, P. (2006). Detecting a decline in whale shark Rhincodon typus sightings in the Andaman Sea, Thailand, using ecotourist operator-collected data. The International Journal of Conservation, 40(3), 337-342.

Umaña, G. (1998). Characterization of some Golfo Dulce drainage basin rivers (Costa Rica). Revista de Biología Tropical, 46(6), 125-135.

Wangelin, M. & Wolff, M. (1996). Comparative biomass spectra and species composition of the zooplankton communities in Golfo Dulce and Golfo de Nicoya, Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 44(3), 135-155.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

© 2017 Universidad de Costa Rica. Para ver más detalles sobre la distribución de los artículos en este sitio visite el aviso legal. Este sitio es desarrollado por UCRIndex y Open Journal Systems.