Simon James Pierce

Simon James Pierce
Marine Megafauna Foundation · Whale Sharks

BSc, BSc (Hons), PhD

About

125
Publications
40,766
Reads
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2,238
Citations
Introduction
I study the conservation biology and population ecology of whale sharks and other threatened marine species.
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Position
  • Chair
August 2013 - present
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Position
  • Member
April 2011 - present
Wild Me
Position
  • Science Coordinator
Education
March 2002 - September 2008
The University of Queensland
Field of study
  • Marine Biology
February 2001 - October 2001
The University of Queensland
Field of study
  • Marine Biology
March 1998 - October 2000

Publications

Publications (125)
Article
The use of photography to discriminate between individuals in a population using natural markings or aberrations is increasingly being utilized to support field research on elasmobranchs. This non-intrusive method has facilitated investigation of a wide variety of subjects including population composition, abundance estimates, residency and movemen...
Article
Full-text available
Whale sharks Rhincodon typus are globally threatened, but a lack of biological and demographic information hampers an accurate assessment of their vulnerability to further decline or capacity to recover. We used laser photogrammetry at two aggregation sites to obtain more accurate size estimates of free-swimming whale sharks compared to visual esti...
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is a popular focal species in the marine tourism industry. We analysed 689 encounters with at least 142 individual sharks during 2008–2010 to assess their behaviour in the presence of swimmers at Tofo Beach, Mozambique. Sharks varied in size (estimated 3.0–9.5 m total length) and the majority (74%) were males. The sh...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents genetic evidence that whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, are comprised of at least two populations that rarely mix and is the first to document a population expansion. Relatively high genetic structure is found when comparing sharks from the Gulf of Mexico with sharks from the Indo-Pacific. If mixing occurs between the Indian and At...
Article
Full-text available
ABSTRACT: Whale sharks Rhincodon typus are large filter-feeders that are frequently observed feeding in surface zooplankton patches at their tropical and subtropical coastal aggregation sites. Using signature fatty acid (FA) analyses from their subdermal connective tissue and stomach content analysis, we tested whether whale sharks in Mozambique an...
Article
Full-text available
The world’s largest extant fish, the whale shark Rhincodon typus, is one of the most-studied species of sharks globally. The discovery of predictable aggregation sites where these animals gather seasonally or are sighted year-round – most of which are coastal and juvenile-dominated – has allowed for a rapid expansion of research on this species. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Global vessel traffic is increasing alongside world economic growth. The potential for rising lethal ship strikes on endangered species of marine megafauna, such as the plankton-feeding whale shark, remains poorly understood since areas of highest overlap are seldom determined across an entire species range. Here we show how satellite...
Article
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is a broadly distributed and highly mobile planktivorous shark species. The sharks form predictable aggregations in many areas, providing the opportunity for cost‐effective scientific monitoring through divers and other marine resource users. Sightings of individuals outside of these aggregate zones elsewhere in thei...
Article
Full-text available
Many large marine species are vulnerable to anthropogenic pressures, and substantial declines have been documented across a range of taxa. Many of these species are also long-lived, have low individual resighting rates and high levels of individual heterogeneity in capture probability, which complicates assessments of their conservation status with...
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is found throughout the world's tropical and warm-temperate ocean basins. Despite their broad physical distribution, research on the species has been concentrated at a few aggregation sites. Comparing DNA sequences from sharks at different sites can provide a demographically neutral understanding of the whale shark's...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation and management of mobile marine species requires an understanding of how movement behaviour and space-use varies among individuals and populations, and how intraspecific differences influence exposure to anthropogenic threats. Because of their long-distance movements, broad distribution and long lifespan, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus)...
Article
• Between September and December, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) aggregate in the coastal waters off Nosy Be, an island in north-western Madagascar. Swimming with these sharks has become an important tourism activity, but no formal protection is in place in Madagascar to protect this endangered species from the potential negative effects of tourism...
Article
Full-text available
Nosy Be in northwestern Madagascar is home to a globally important whale shark (Rhincodon typus) aggregation and a growing whale shark tourism industry. However, whale sharks are not protected in Malagasy waters and are threatened by fisheries bycatch, collisions with vessels, and disturbance from tourism. We used tourist questionnaires (n = 488) t...
Article
Full-text available
The rehabilitation of wildlife can contribute directly to the conservation of threatened species by helping to maintain wild populations. This study focused on determining the post-rehabilitation survival and spatial ecology of sea turtles and on comparing the movements of individuals with flipper amputations (amputees) to non-amputee animals. Our...
Article
Striped marlin Kajikia audax are globally Near Threatened and their stock in the Indian Ocean was last assessed as “overfished and subject to overfishing”. Significant gaps in our understanding of their ecology remain, hampering the efforts of fisheries managers to ensure stock sustainability. There is a particular lack of fisheries‐independent dat...
Article
Full-text available
Highly mobile marine megafauna species, while widely distributed and frequently threatened, often aggregate in distinct localized habitats. Implementation of local management initiatives within these hotspots is more achievable than developing effective conservation strategies that encompass their entire distributions. Such measures have the potent...
Article
Although robust and consistent long‐term datasets are lacking, it is commonly accepted that sea turtle populations face significant human threats while using Mozambique's coastal habitats. While multiple threats have been identified, their relative impact – and thus the ability to prioritize limited conservation resources – is poorly known. To obta...
Article
Full-text available
Elasmobranchs are experiencing population declines worldwide because of anthropogenic stressors. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been shown to benefit mesopredatory species of shark. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site and the largest no-take MPA in the...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing the movements and connectivity of whale sharks Rhincodon typus through their range is difficult due to high individual mobility and limited knowledge of their behaviour following dispersal from coastal aggregation sites. Here, we use a large set of photo-identification and stable isotope data (δ15N and δ13C) to test the assumption that sh...
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark Rhincodon typus was uplisted to 'Endangered' in the 2016 IUCN Red List due to >50% population decline, largely caused by continued exploitation in the Indo-Pacific. Though the Philippines protected the whale shark in 1998, concerns remain due to continued take in regional waters. In light of this, understanding the movements of whal...
Preprint
Full-text available
Whale sharks Rhincodon typus , the world’s largest fish, are routinely sighted off the northwest coast of Madagascar, particularly off the island of Nosy Be. Dedicated whale shark tourism has been developing in the area since 2011. During our first dedicated survey, from September-December 2016, we photo-identified 85 individual whale sharks, rangi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Whale sharks Rhincodon typus , the world’s largest fish, are routinely sighted off the northwest coast of Madagascar, particularly off the island of Nosy Be. Dedicated whale shark tourism has been developing in the area since 2011. During our first dedicated survey, from September-December 2016, we photo-identified 85 individual whale sharks, rangi...
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is an endangered, highly migratory species with a wide, albeit patchy, distribution through tropical oceans. Ten aerial survey flights along the southern Mozambican coast, conducted between 2004–2008, documented a relatively high density of whale sharks along a 200 km stretch of the Inhambane Province, with a pronoun...
Data
Direction and step lengths (A) Frequency of directions and (B) the step length frequency for tagged whale sharks.
Data
Map of real track and its 100 random shark tracks An example of the track for whale shark MZ-241 (red) and its 100 random model shark tracks (blue).
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is an iconic and endangered species with a broad distribution spanning warm-temperate and tropical oceans. Effective conservation management of the species requires an understanding of the degree of genetic connectivity among populations, which is hampered by the need for sampling that involves invasive techniques....
Article
Full-text available
The whale shark is an ideal flagship species for citizen science projects because of its charismatic nature, its size, and the associated ecotourism ventures focusing on the species at numerous coastal aggregation sites. An online database of whale shark encounters, identifying individuals on the basis of their unique skin patterning, captured almo...
Article
Full-text available
The Arabian Gulf is the warmest sea in the world and is host to a globally significant population of the whale shark Rhincodon typus. To investigate regional whale shark behaviour and movements, 59 satellite-linked tags were deployed on whale sharks in the Al Shaheen area off Qatar from 2011-14. Four different models of tag were used throughout the...
Data
The satellite transmitted data for each whale shark deployed tag included in this study. (XLSX)
Data
An image of whale shark taken at Al Shaheen. (TIF)
Data
An image of a researcher satellite tagging a whale shark taken at Al Shaheen. (TIF)
Article
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is an endangered, highly migratory species with a wide, albeit patchy, distribution through tropical oceans. Ten aerial survey flights along the southern Mozambican coast, conducted between 2004–2008, documented a relatively high density of whale sharks along a ~200 km stretch of the Inhambane Province, with a pronou...
Preprint
The whale shark Rhincodon typus is an endangered, highly migratory species with a wide, albeit patchy, distribution through tropical oceans. Ten aerial survey flights along the southern Mozambican coast, conducted between 2004–2008, documented a relatively high density of whale sharks along a ~200 km stretch of the Inhambane Province, with a pronou...
Article
Full-text available
We collected movement data for eight rehabilitated and satellite-tagged green sea turtles Chelonia mydas released off the United Arab Emirates between 2005 and 2013. Rehabilitation periods ranged from 96 to 1353 days (mean = 437 ± 399 days). Seven of the eight tagged turtles survived after release; one turtle was killed by what is thought to be a p...
Data
An image of ‘Dibba’ being released from a beach in the UAE. (TIF)
Data
The individual post-filtered satellite transmitted data for each sea turtle included in this study. (XLS)
Article
Full-text available
The predictable occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, has been well documented in several areas. However, information relating to their migratory patterns, residency times and connectivity across broad spatial scales is limited. In the present study photo-identification data is used to describe whale shark population structure and connectivi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mobulid rays are one of the most vulnerable chondrichthyan groups due to their low population growth rates and high susceptibility to fisheries. While estimates of human-induced mortality are lacking, sighting trend data can provide an index of their status. We recorded underwater sightings data of Mobula alfredi , M. birostris and M. kuhlii over a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mobulid rays are one of the most vulnerable chondrichthyan groups due to their low population growth rates and high susceptibility to fisheries. While estimates of human-induced mortality are lacking, sighting trend data can provide an index of their status. We recorded underwater sightings data of Mobula alfredi , M. birostris and M. kuhlii over a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent advances in tracking technologies and analytical approaches allow for deeper insights into the movement ecology of wide-ranging fishes. The whale shark Rhincodon typus is an endangered, highly migratory species with a wide, albeit patchy, distribution through tropical oceans. Aerial surveys along the southern Mozambican coast, conducted over...
Data
Raw Data Archived depth, temperature, and latitude and longitude data from original data reports from tags WS1 to WS8 received from Microwave Telemetry
Data
Resampled locations (point density data) Along previously reported tag-specific longitudinal and latitudinal Gaussian error fields (0.16ºin longitude and 1.19ºin latitude).
Article
Full-text available
Eight whale sharks tagged with pop-up satellite archival tags off the Gulf of California, Mexico, were tracked for periods of 14–134 days. Five of these sharks were adults, with four females visually assessed to be pregnant. At least for the periods they were tracked, juveniles remained in the Gulf of California while adults moved offshore into the...
Article
Full-text available
Sea turtles spend the majority of their immature and adult lives in foraging grounds, yet few studies have examined their abundance and condition in these areas when compared to more accessible nesting beach habitats. Here, a 5-year dive log, photo-identification (photo-ID) and surface encounter datasets were used to investigate the abundance, indi...
Article
Full-text available
Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majorit...
Article
Full-text available
Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majorit...
Data
Whale shark encounter reports in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman up to and including 2014. (XLS)
Data
An image of a large female whale shark and researcher taken in Al Shaheen. (TIF)
Data
An image of the remote and mountainous Musandam Governorate of Oman. (TIF)
Data
An aerial image of a whale shark aggregation in the Al Shaheen area showing typical density of feeding sharks and variation in size. (TIF)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background Remote oceanic islands may play important roles in the life history of whale sharks; they have been hypothesized to be the site of mating or pupping in this species. One such island is St. Helena in the South Atlantic, which was recently discovered to play host to a seasonal population of adult male and female whale sharks. Approach Two...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background Gathering data on the life of enigmatic animals remains a challenge, despite its important role in biodiversity conservation and management. For many species, biogeographic investigations are largely the result of information that is generated from multiple sources, often over long time-scales, because measuring biogeographic and biologi...
Poster
Full-text available
Limited research exists for the regional populations of sea turtles that use Mozambique's coast. Although robust and consistent long-term datasets are lacking, it is commonly accepted that marine turtle populations face significant human threats in Mozambique's coastal habitats. Multiple threats have been identified but their relative impact unknow...