Georgia Aquarium zoologist Alistair Dove snapped the photograph from the window of a Cessna plane during a recent research trip to the Gulf of Mexico, where he studies whale sharks. He’s been less successful in capturing whale shark defecation in the water, though not for lack of trying. It’s hard to keep up with the fast-cruising giants, and their deposits fall quickly. And for a zoologist like Dove, the feces are research treasure.
“Nobody has done this analysis yet,” said Dove, who referenced a scene from Jurassic Park, when Laura Dern’s character is ecstatic at the chance to poke through a pile of dinosaur droppings. “It could be a literal gold mine.”