Now the scientists have applied to the technique from the 2011 study to measure whale sharks in Mozambique and Tanzania to create a more comprehensive survey. The lengths were compared to the bodies of stranded individuals that were dissected and age-determined. The sharks measured between about 14 feet and 30 feet long.
Rohner and Pierce found two main things. First, they concluded that laser photogrammetry is useful for making routine measurements, but is not accurate enough to estimate growth rates over a short period of time, say one to three years.
These animals live upwards of 80 years and so using the laser technique to collect measurements of the same shark over a period of decades makes more sense.
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They also found that most of the whale shark swimming in the waters off Mozambique and Tanzania were juvenile males between 14 feet and 30 feet long. This begs the question as to where the females are, the small juvenile sharks -- those between 1.5 feet and 13 feet -- as well as the mature sharks, which typically measure between 30 to 65 feet.
Knowing where these animals spend their time could greatly improve conservation and management.