The whale shark is the largest fish in the world. It is called the “whale” because of its size, not because it is related to them. Whale sharks live in the warm waters of the Pacific, India, and the Atlantic. Whale sharks are migratory species. This means that they change locations frequently depending on the availability of the food. Since they are very peaceful and friendly beings, many different people had the opportunity to swim freely with them. Whale sharks are considered endangered as they are overfished in some places. Parts of the world.
The binomial name for a whale shark is Rhincodon typus.
Whale sharks are very large animals. They can reach 65 feet in length and weigh up to 75 000 pounds.
Whale sharks have a flattened head and a blunt snout right above their mouth.
Whale sharks are bluish-gray or brown-black in color. Their bellies are white, and their back and sides are covered with white or creamy stripes and dots.
The whale shark can reach an average length of 32 feet.
Body coloration provides camouflage in the ocean. Each whale shark has unique pattern of stripes and dots. Researchers use these patterns for identification of individual whale sharks.
The whale shark can reach an average weight of 20,000 pounds.
Despite their huge size, whale sharks feed on plankton. They eat plankton, small crustaceans and fish, which they filter from the sea water.
There are reports of whale sharks that have exceeded 59 feet in length.
Whale shark can swallow 1500 gallons of water each hour.
Whale sharks have around 3,000 teeth that are less than an inch long.
Whale shark has 4.9 feet wide mouth with 4000 teeth arranged in 350 rows. Although this sounds scary, teeth are very small (size of a match head) and look like a rasp.
Whale sharks are the largest living fish species.
Whale sharks live in the open water and swim near the surface of the water.
The whale shark is a filter feeder and is a carnivore.
Whale shark is not a fast swimmer. It swims 3 miles per hour.
A whale shark’s diet includes plankton, copepods, krill, fish eggs, crab larvae, small squid and fish.
Whale sharks have a skeleton made of cartilage instead of bones. Cartilage is flexible and tough, but it easily decays after death.
It’s estimated that whale sharks have a lifespan between 70 and 100 years.
Whale sharks are solitary creatures. They can be rarely seen in the groups.
Whale sharks process almost 800 gallons of water through their gills an hour.
Whale sharks are not afraid of the ships. Sea captains need to pay close attention when they sail in the oceans where whale sharks can be found if they want to avoid collisions.
The IUCN conservation status for the whale shark is endangered.
Female whale sharks are larger than males. Other than that, they can be recognized by the lack of claspers on the lower side of their body. Claspers are seen only in males, who use them to transfer the sperm during copulation.
Whale sharks become sexually mature at the age of 30. Females are ovoviviparous, which means that they lay eggs inside their body and give birth to live babies.
Female may have hundreds of thousand eggs inside her body, but only few of them (no more than 300) will develop fully. Other eggs serve as the source of energy for developing embryos. Pups are 2 feet long at birth.
Whale shark lives between 60 and 100 years. Some scientists speculate that they may survive even longer than 100 years.