Galapagos: Realm of Giant Sharks



A remote island

in the Pacific Ocean.

A place forgotten by time.

Here, in one of the last great

ocean sanctuaries,

a mysterious parade

of giant sharks passes.

Most are pregnant females

about to give birth.

What has drawn them here?

And where are they going?

Researchers have come

to the Galapagos Island

chain to track these

Dinosaurs of the sea.

To follow them wherever

they travel across the globe.

On a journey of discovery

to the Galapagos.


Jutting out from the sea,

at the far northern end of

the Galapagos archipelago,

is an ancient, crumbling volcano called

Darwin Island.

And just to its south,

a magnificent natural arch.

A group of scientists, working under the

auspices of the Galapagos National Park,

has just arrived.

In the swirling currents below,

something else is slowly approaching.

It's a whale shark, the largest fish

ever to have lived.

It's part of a steady stream of giant

sharks that passes by Darwin Island.

This team is hoping to find out

what draws them

to this tiny stretch of ocean,

and where are they going.

They wait on a rocky reef.


a massive silhouette appears.

At about twelve meters in length,

this female is almost fully grown.

The team rises up to meet her.

They'll attach satellite

tracking devices

anchoring them in the

thick skin on her back.

In his log, team leader, Jonathan Green,

describes the encounter.

Jonathan Green:
The shark had

barely flinched.

So at this point, I swim

down towards her head.

Once in front, I turn and

let the current carry me

the full length of her

body, past the tail.

Her colossal size is apparent

as her body slides by.

The whale shark continues

placidly on her way,

seemingly unaware of the

procedures going on around her.

Whenever she

breaks the surface,

her tags will relay her location

via satellite to the scientists.

Ranger, as this whale shark is called,

is now part of one of the most

ambitious studies of marine

animal migration ever undertaken.

For several weeks, she stayed just

north of the Galapagos Islands.

Then she headed south and

east to the coast of Peru.

Over one thousand kilometers away.

Ranger's is not the only incredible

journey documented by this team.

Take the case of Jaws,

another mature female.

With tag in place,

Jaws headed north and west

out into the rugged undersea terrain

of the Galapagos Rift Zone.

She appeared to be going out to sea.

Instead, she turned around and made her

way back to the Galapagos Islands.

Like Ranger, she too went south to

the coast of Peru.

Then there's Kimberly, a mere teenager

at 5 meters in length.

She arrived at Darwin Island with

Jaws and followed her to the west.

Kimberley split off, veering

to the south.

Her route took her to another rugged

zone known as the East Pacific Rise.

Along the way,

Kimberly zig-zagged through the ocean

in a pattern probably

associated with feeding.

At a point 3500 kilometers

away from Darwin Island

the transmissions showed

that her tag had detached

and was floating on the surface.

Another creature could

have bitten it off.

She may have removed it herself

by rubbing up against rocks.

Or she might have caught

by fishermen who discarded it.

Where were these sharks headed?

Were they following familiar routes?

Or possibly shifts in

water temperatures,

or the availability of food?

These are questions that captured

the imagination of Jonathan Green,

a naturalist and photographer

who has worked in the Galapagos

for over two decades.

Jonathan Green:

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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