Utila Island is unique in so many ways, just 20 miles from Roatan and 18 miles from the coast of Honduras, not only a great place to vacation and dive it is perfect for research on whale sharks, Utila is one of the very few places in the world that see them all year round with the main bulk seen from March into May and also around Christmas and New year plus September time but you always have a chance of seeing them.
It is situated on the edge of the western end of the Cayman Trench whose depth drops to just over 25,000ft, this adds further to the intrigue of what the whale sharks are doing at depth, breeding?, giving birth? parasite removal? temperature regulation? navigation? all these are unknown.
The Utila Whale Shark Research Project has passed its initial five-year study of the population dynamics and ethology of the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) that visit Utila. After the findings that have been made and discovered we have decided to carry this project on indefinitely as we have had some great success with movement patterns and population studies. Utila is an important link in the chain for whale shark studies in the Caribbean as whale sharks seen in Utila have also been seen in Belize, Mexico and the USA.
These amazing creatures can be seen year-round, however, they are most prevalent during the months of March through April. Using cutting-edge technology for photo-identification, the project is generating data that can be used for local population estimation as well as for broader studies throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world. As a “threatened species”, we seek to understand our local whale shark population in order to better protect it. This requires solid science and a commitment to local conservation.