Rare Whale Sharks Seen Off Florida Coast

The gentle giants do not pose a threat, but scientists hope to track their movements in Gulf waters.

Marine scientists at in Sarasota are asking boaters for help in tracking a rare whale shark spotted along Florida’s coast on May 19.

Whale sharks — the largest fish species on Earth — were reported by a boater last weekend, about 50 miles offshore of Johns Pass in Pinellas County.

Scientists believe the gentle filter-feeding fish, which are occasionally in Florida waters, may have been feeding on plankton blloms or fish eggs. Mote scientists are collecting reports of whale shark sightings to look for possible patterns to their movements in our waters, accoding to a press release.  

Scientists are asking boaters who believe they may have seen the giant whale sharks to call Mote’s Center for Shark Research at 941-388-1827. 

They are asking people to make note of the number of whale sharks, date and location (GPS coordinates if possible). If possible, try to take photos! Please include contact information.

The whale shark is a rare, protected species that can grow to 10 tons in size. This National Geographic video (attached to the article) shows a diver swimming alongside the giant fish.


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