Whale Shark Facts and Information

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.

Despite its massive size, Whale Sharks are the “Gentle Giants” of the ocean. Unlike their other shark relatives that are meat-eaters, these giants are filter feeders.

General Description

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.

This gigantic marine mammal have unique markings on their bodies that are useful to Scientists in identifying individuals.

Ecology

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 believed to be sexually matured at around 30 years and estimated lifespan is around 70 years old. Further, these fish have no known natural predator.

Juvenile Whale Sharks are known to be friendly and playful to swimmers and SCUBA divers they encounter.

Distribution

Whale sharks are migratory animals and they are found in all tropical and warm seas of the planet.

Whale Sharks migrate to plankton rich areas. But aside from plankton, this giant animal can also feed on small fish and other vertebrates.

Conservation Status

The Whale Sharks are currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a vulnerable species.

This Chinese Restaurant is having this whole Whale Shark on its menu. It’s so disheartening to see such a gentle animal being butchered. :(

Where to dive or Swim with Whale Sharks?

Find below the best places where to dive or to snorkel with these gentle giant creatures.

destination of the month

Maldives

Great Drift Dives, amazing place for underwater photography. Good chance of spotting Manta Rays and Whale Sharks!

Maldives Diving Review

Donsol

The best place in the World to swim and dive with Whale Sharks! Also a fantastic spot for spotting Manta Rays.

Donsol Diving Review

Musandam, Oman

Great diving in beautifully preserved dive sites. Excellent chances of spotting a Whale Shark and rare critters for Macro Lovers!

Musandam, Oman Diving Review


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