Habitats and Migration – Ocean Wanderers Whale Sharks can be found in multiple locations throughout the world’s oceans. They swim in both deep and shallow waters, enjoying coastal areas where food sources are abundant. Genetic research suggests that whale sharks mix genes from far-flung geographic locations, and that two large meta-populations exist – one in the Atlantic and one in the Indo-Pacific.Researchers are still attempting to discover where whale sharks travel, and under what circumstances. Some stay within a local range – as in Triton Bay – and some travel vast distances. During a 2007 Australian research project, a mature female traveled over 7,000 km (4,350 mi) before her tag stopped working. Four years later, the same female – identified by her unique spot pattern – returned to her original starting point.How do they navigate with such poor eyesight? Researchers theorize that they orient themselves by reading the alignment of earth’s magnetic field – possibly related to their sensory abilities and to specialized organs which pick up pulsations such as volcanic vibrations and electromagnetic signals.An ongoing tracking project in Cenderawasih Bay, where most of the area’s whale sharks remain year-round, recorded in December 2005 that two sharks left the Bay and swam towards the coast of New Guinea, while some others headed out toward the Pacific – with some of them swimming up to 4,000 km (2,485 mi) away.Each of the migrating sharks returned to Cenderawasih Bay soon after making these vast journeys, which researchers have dubbed ‘field trips’ due to their short duration. It’s not yet known why the sharks embarked on these field trips – many were immature males, so it wasn’t for mating purposes. It remains yet another intriguing mystery of the enigmatic whale shark.