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Female whale shark meets her male Churaumi counterparts

Date Posted: 2010-04-01

A female whale shark captured off the coast of Yomitan Village nearly three years ago has finally been introduced to the boys at Churaumi Aquarium in northern Okinawa.

The aquarium has been more than a half-dozen years without a female whale shark, and officials want to breed whale sharks in the massive tank at the aquarium site near Motobu. The 5.7-meter-long female, still considered a baby, has been introduced to the three male whale sharks and they’re now getting to know each other. The as-yet-unnamed gal weighs in at 1.3 tons, is expected to grow 30-40 centimeters a year, and will become an adult in about ten years or so.

The female whale shark has been raised in a pen outside the aquarium for two years, 10 months. Minoru Toda, the Churaumi Aquarium Director, says “now we’re going to try to breed them inside the aquarium. If we’re successful in breeding, all kinds of mysteries about whale sharks will become known if we’re lucky.” One of the first things scientists expect to learn is how long it takes to make a baby whale shark.

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