Yes, you heard it right. Whale Sharks are sharks, not whales. Therefore they are fish not mammals. But before you start panicking when you see them swim your way, best know that these sharks are the “Gentle Giants” of the ocean. Meaning, they pose no harm and threat to SCUBA divers and to humans in general.
Unlike the typical sharks which have torpedo-shaped bodies and pointed snouts, the Whale Shark’s head is flattened with its mouth located at the front. Aside from its enormous size, this fish can also be distinguished by the spots on its dorsal surface.
Size and Color
Although Whale Sharks can grow long as much as 40 feet, the average size for these gigantic mammals is around 25 feet. Since these sharks are huge, Whale Sharks can weigh up to 15 tons!
All Whale Sharks have distinct and unique markings such as random stripes and dots on their thick dark skin. These markings are as unique as a person’s thumbmarks that’s why said marking are used in identification by Scientists and Marine Biologists.
Whale Sharks are filter feeders animals. Aside from plankton, which their favorite meal, Whale Sharks are also known to consume krills, small squids, small fish and other vertebrates.
In contrast with their massive size, Whale Sharks are very docile and tame that they sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride and SCUBA divers to swim near close to them. However, hitch riding and feeding of this wild animals are strongly discouraged and although they are harmless, swimmers and divers alike should stay far from its powerful tail to avoid being hit and injured.
Whale sharks are migratory animals and they are found in all tropical and warm seas of the planet.
Where to dive or Swim with Whale Sharks?
Find below the best places where to dive or to snorkel with these gentle giant creatures.