Rafael de la Parra

Sunday, January 13, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Shark tourism has become an important industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. In order to gather information on the Whale Shark population and their habitat, brand new technology is being utilized involving “real time” satellite telemetry and behavior tags. These are being used to estimate the ecological behavior of whale sharks, analyzing the impacts of tourism which can be used to improve the conservation schemes of the species.

For the last 17 years, Rafael de la Parra has led and coordinated whale shark research in the Mexican Caribbean. As a Marine Biologist and Executive Director of Ch'ooj Ajauil AC (Blue Realm), he has conducted aerial surveillance, tagged over 900 whale sharks, obtained over 50,000 photographs, biopsied more than 200 whale sharks, and constructed databases and image banks of these sharks. He has published over 34 papers on whale sharks and submitted over 5,800 encounters to the International Whale Shark Library. Rafael has also collaborated with the Utila Whale Shark Research Group in Honduras for 12 years. 

In August 2018, one of Niabi's own, Penny Hillier (who is a seasonal Zoo Keeper and also a Volunteer), joined Rafael in Cancun, Mexico to help tag whale sharks. While there, National Geographic's Phil Keoghan was filming an episode of Explorer featuring Rafael's work with Whale Sharks.

See Penny and Rafael in the upcoming Nat Geo Explorer episode called Swimming with Sharks. The episode will air on Monday, January 14 at 5pm CST on the National Geographic Channel (Check local listings). www.nationalgeographic.com/tv/explorer/

$8 if non-member

Niabi Zoo • 13010 Niabi Zoo Road • Coal Valley, Illinois
This event occurs in the past
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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