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The Case of the Whale Shark Party with Rafael de la Parra

In this episode, we explain how we adopted a whale shark!


NGSS Standards:



Crosscutting Concepts:

Systems and System Models

0206 - The Case of the Whale Shark Party - Transcr
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You would think that adopting a whale shark would be a big responsibility. After all, whale sharks are as large as a bus! Plus, they're endangered animals - you have to be careful with them. But our lives didn't change much when we adopted a whale shark. We didn't bring MXA-130 home with us. Instead, we looked at her photos online.

Swimmer with whale shark
Whale shark's side

Tag on a whale shark

From top, a swimmer with MXA-130, evidence of gill damage, and her tracking tag. All images courtesy of

We can see from the 43 "encounters" MXA-130 has had in front of a camera that her favorite spots to hang out are Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. Her hobbies include "horizontally feeding." (Who doesn't enjoy that?!)

Map of Cancun

MXA-130 loves Cancun!

The last time MXA-130 was seen, it was September 2016! She's due to come back to her favorite hangs for the summer feeding season. When she does, we'll get an email from her!

Map displaying MXA-130's location

Here we can see the green dot as the first sighting of MXA-130, and the red dots are from her travels.

Adopting a whale shark is about more than getting emails from the biggest fish in the sea, though. When you support your whale shark with a monthly donation, you're actually supporting the scientists who are working to conserve an endangered species. They use the images and other data from for research projects - answering the endless questions that exist about whale sharks.

Make sure you let us know if you take on the responsibility of a whale shark! We can trade tips and tricks for caring and loving them.

Want to help give our very own MXA-130 a nickname? Email us at We'll be posting the suggestions on Patreon, for voting!

While in Cancun, we learned that you can actually swim with whale sharks! But only when whale sharks are there, from mid-May to mid-September.

Whale shark tours have become a big business in Cancun. If you go, make sure that you're going with a responsible tour company that's committed to conservation. Irresponsible tour companies might get too close to the whale sharks, and their propellers can injure them. They should also instruct you on how to keep a respectful distance from the whale sharks. Touching the sharks or hanging off their fins can hurt them.

If you're in Cancun, you can book a tour with Rafael de la Parra himself on the Grampus! He's even running trips where you can help with research.

Photo of Rafael

Rafael de la Parra on the Grampus. Photo by Lindsay Patterson.

And check out his research organization - CH'OOJA JAUIL (in Spanish).

For additional educational materials, sign up on our Patreon at the $5 level.

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