WHALE SHARKS: GENTLE GIANTS
Researchers use technology from NASA to get a better understanding of the largest fish in the sea.
They're not whales at all, but by far the largest fish in the sea. Yet at nearly 50 feet in length and weighing 20 tons or more, they eat only the smallest marine animals. Like elephants slaughtered for their ivory tusks, whale sharks are relentlessly pursued by poachers. From Africa to Asia, they are targeted for their immense fins. As a result, their numbers are dramatically shrinking, and scientists are racing against time to get a better understanding of the species. Utilizing space-age technology from NASA and the Hubble Telescope, researchers are able to identify, catalogue and track individual sharks. The episode includes a remarkable segment on "shark cowboys" who capture and transport live whale sharks (in customized jumbo jets) to aquariums in Japan and the United States.