Spatial and temporal characteristics of whale shark and manta aggregations in the Western Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico


Dataset credit

Data provider
MarAlliance - Marine Megafauna Program
Originating data center
Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT)
Project partner
Partners for this project include the Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas of Mexico(Dr. Francisco Remolina), The Department of Fisheries in Belize (Beverly Wade and James Azueta), the Centro de Investigaciones de Ecosistemas Costeros of Cuba (Dr. Fabian Pina), Deep Blue in Utila Honduras (Steve Fox), University of Southern Mississippi in Louisiana, USA (Dr. Eric Hoffmayer)and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the US (Emma Hickerson).
Project sponsor or sponsor description
This Project is supported by the Summit Foundation, and several donors who wish to remain anonymous.


Primary contact Rachel Graham MarAlliance - Sharks and Rays Program
Data entry Michael Coyne


Graham R. 2024. Spatial and temporal characteristics of whale shark and manta aggregations in the Western Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico. Data downloaded from OBIS-SEAMAP ( on yyyy-mm-dd and originated from Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT;


Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and manta rays (Manta spp.)represent some of the most iconic species of fish worldwide and yet only recently are their patterns of movement becoming known. Whale shark and manta site fidelity and movements in relation to ephemeral food sources and a host of environmental factors are being elucidated through a long term and multi-partner project named the MarineMeganet. The Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico possess several aggregations of whale sharks and a large aggregation of manta rays as well as a range of other species of ocean giants that gather seasonally to feed. Although there are no targeted fisheries for the world's largest fish and ray in this region, their large and predictable aggregations remain at risk from ship strikes, uncontrolled tourism and, in the case of the whale shark, the capture of its food source (eg fish that produce the spawn that whale sharks feed on).

To better understand aggregation dynamics of whale sharks and manta rays we are investigating their patterns of movement in relation to ephemeral food pulses and anthropogenic threats by deploying satellite location only tags that will provide near real time tracking information to inform the management and conservation of these species.

Los tiburónes ballena (Rhincodon typus) y las manta rayas (Manta spp.) representan algunas de las especies más emblemáticas de peces en todo el mundo y sin embargo sólo recientemente sus patrones de movimiento han sido revelado. La fidelidad al sitio y los movimientos en lo referente a fuentes alimenticias efímeras y una serie de factores ambientales se están esclareciendose a través de un largo plazo y el proyecto denominado el MarineMeganet. El oeste del Caribe y el Golfo de México poseen varias agrupaciones de tiburones ballena y una gran acumulación de manta rayas, así como una variedad de otras especies de gigantes del océano que se reúnen por temporadas para alimentarse. Aunque no hay ninguna pesca regional enfocada hacia estos planktivoros grandes, sus agregaciones grandes y predecibles permanecen en riesgo de huelgas de la nave, turismo descontrolado y, en el caso del tiburón ballena, la captura de su fuente de alimento (por ejemplo los peces que producen la semilla que se alimentan de tiburones ballena).

Para mejor comprender la dinámica de la agregación de tiburones ballena y de las manta rayas estamos investigando sus patrones de movimiento en relación con pulsos de alimentos efímeras y amenazas antropogénicas mediante la colocación de etiquetas satélites que proporcionarán información para la gestión y conservación de estas especies de seguimiento en tiempo casi-real.



Supplemental information

Visit STAT's project page for additional information.




This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
prognumProgram number
tag_idPTT ID
lcLocation class
iqQuality indicator
dir1Dir 1
nb_mesNumber of messages received
big_nb_mesdefinition not provided
best_levelBest signal strength in dB
pass_durationPass duration in seconds
nopcNumber Of Plausibility Checks successful (from 0-4)
calcul_freqCalculated frequency
altitudeAltitude used for location calculation
speciesSpecies name
project_idSTAT Project ID
lc_filterParameters to location filtering
speed_filterParameters to speed filtering
distance_filterParameters to distance filtering
topo_filterParameters to topo filtering
time_filterParameters to time filtering
angle_filterParameters to angle filtering
life_stageLife stage of the animal
genderGender of the animal
wetdryWet or dry
wetdry_filterParameters to Wet or dry filterint
obs_datetimeDate and time (local time zone)
timezone_hTime difference from UTC
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks4,862
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2010-07-23
Date, End2013-12-16
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude10.12 - 36.47
Longitude-121.72 - -60.84
Coord. prec.3 decimal digits
Data typeTelemetry location
TracklinesYES (ID: 595)
Traveled (km)35,409
Travel hours41,357
Contr. throughSatellite Tracking and Analysis Tool
Sharing policy Permission required
Shared with SWOT
GBIF (via DOI)*
* Aggregated summary
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics