Records of whale sharks in the Caribbean are relatively sparse. Here we document 24 records of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith 1882) for the Dutch Caribbean, four for the windward islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, and twenty for the southern Caribbean leeward islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. The results suggest a higher abundance of whale sharks in the southern, leeward part of the Dutch Caribbean, likely associated with seasonal upwelling-driven productivity known for the southeastern Caribbean area. A bimodal seasonal pattern as documented for Venezuela was not as pronounced in our findings for the Leeward Dutch Caribbean and whale sharks were recorded in 9 months of the year. In the Windward Dutch Caribbean all (4) records so far were for the winter months of December-February. Most records involved large and solitary animals in contrast to areas elsewhere suspected of being nursery habitat. According to local sources, whale sharks were most often associated with feeding tunas and sea surface swarms of crab megalopae.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2–3