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Whale Shark – Rhincodon typus

Whale Shark

The whale shark is found to live in tropical climates in water that is warm. Generally they aren’t found too close to the shore. So to see one you would need to be out in deeper waters of the ocean. When they are placed into captivity it is extremely expensive due to the open space the need and the volume of water. In their natural environment they tend to be more than 1,200 meters below the surface of the water.

Facts about Whale Sharks

The whale shark is the biggest of all species. Adults are at least 25 feet long and they can be up to 32 feet in length. They can also weigh up to 20,000 pounds which is unbelievable. While it isn’t uncommon for sharks to have rows of teeth, the whale shark has an abundance of them. They can feature between 300 and 350 rows of teeth at a time.

Another unusual aspect of it from other types of sharks is that they entire body has to be used for swimming. For people who come into contact with it, their first instinct is to swim away as quickly as it can. Even with the size of it though the whale shark doesn’t pose a threat to humans.

In fact, many researchers have observed them up close and even played with them in the water. They have allowed humans to remove parasites and a built up of bacteria from their bodies as well. The only concern is being hit by accident from the tail of the whale shark. It is extremely powerful and can cause an injury to a person due to the sheer force of it.

Whale Shark Feeding

The whale shark is a filter feeder which is quite interesting for such a large shark. It glides along in the water and takes in water and what all is inside of it. This is a great way for them to get plenty to eat. At the same time it keeps the water clear of various types of debris that can accumulate. They are one of three types of sharks that feed in this manner.

Anatomy of Whale Sharks

You will find it interesting that the whale shark features five sets of large gills. It is generally light gray in color with the underbelly being white. You will notice patches of yellow spots along it as well. Some parts of the skin have the look of alligator or crocodile as they are raised and in porous squares. The design of the spots and squares are very unique to each one of the whale sharks.

Reproduction of Whale Sharks

Due to the size of the whale shark it isn’t surprising that females can have up to 300 pups per litter. The eggs grow inside of the mother and then the live pups are expelled into the water. They don’t become sexually mature until they are about 30 years of age which is quite unusual for sharks. However, they do have a life span of approximately 100 years.

Future of Whale Sharks

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Whale sharks don’t seem to be in and danger for the future. They are very large but there is plenty of water out there for them to live in. They are filter feeders so finding food isn’t a problem for them. They also don’t pose a threat to humans so they are mainly left alone by them as well. However, they are hunted in Taiwan as the people there enjoy making tofu out of them.



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May 2016
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