Whale Shark: Facts You Might Not Know About the World's Biggest Shark | Trekking Days
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Whale Shark: Facts You Might Not Know About the World’s Biggest Shark

by | The Oracle, Wildlife

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Did you know that whale sharks are the biggest sharks in the world? They can grow up to 40 ft long (12.1 m ) and weigh more than 20,000 pounds (9100 kg/9 tones)! If you’re curious to learn more about whale sharks or planning a whale shark dive, keep reading, as today we will discuss some interesting facts about whale sharks that you might not know

Whale Sharks Are the Largest Fish in the World

Whale sharks get their name from their whale-like size and their diet of plankton, krill, and small fish. Despite their size, whale sharks are gentle giants. These docile creatures pose no threat to humans and are often described as “harmless filter feeders.”

Perhaps this image can give you an idea of their size

Whale sharks are found in tropical and warm waters all over the world. They often congregate in areas with rich food sources, such as whale shark aggregation sites. The largest concentration of whale sharks is found in the Gulf of Mexico near Cancun, Mexico.

Whale Sharks Are Slow, Gentle Giants

Whale sharks are slow-moving animals, swimming at an average speed of about five miles per hour (two meters per second). To learn more about whale sharks and their behavior, scientists often attach tracking devices to whale sharks. This helps them understand where whale sharks travel and what they eat.

Whale Sharks Don’t Lay Eggs

When females produce eggs, the young hatch inside the mother. Females give birth to many youngs. The offsprings become fertile at around age 25. Research suggest that whale sharks can live up to 150 years.

Whale Sharks Migrate Thousands of Miles Every Year in Search of Food

In order to find food, whale sharks migrate thousands of miles every year, often swimming alone or in small groups. Their migratory routes take them to all corners of the globe, and they have been known to dive as deep as 5,000 ft (1500 m) in search of food. Little is understood about the specific details of their migration patterns.

You can actually track white whale sharks in real time if that’s something you’re into. If you want to see in real time satellite-tagged white whale sharks as they move through the waters of Eastern Indonesia, go here.

Whale Sharks Cannot Bite nor Chew

Despite their impressive mouth, which can stretch to four ft wide, whale sharks have tinny teeths (about 3000 of them!), which only allows them to eat by using their grill rakers as a suction filter. Those grills can process more than 6,000 litres of water an hour.

Nice mouth

They Can Hold their Breath for Up to Five Minutes

Whale sharks are able to hold their breath for up to five minutes at a time. This allows them to stay submerged for long periods of time in order to find food.

Also impressive!

When whale sharks surface to breathe, they often do so with their mouths open, filtered feeding on the plankton-rich water.

The skin of a whale shark is covered in tiny, tooth-like structures called dermal denticles. These structures help to reduce drag and protect the whale shark from predators. The skin of a whale shark is also very thick, which helps to protect them from injury.

Like Other Sharks, They Are an Endangered Species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists whale sharks as “vulnerable.” This means they are at risk of becoming endangered in the future.

There are many threats to whale sharks, but the biggest threat is humans. Whale sharks are often accidentally caught in fishing nets and killed. They are also hunted for their fins, which are used to make soup, and their meat, which is considered a delicacy in some cultures.

They Like It Warm

You will find most whale sharks in tropical waters, with most of them (75%) being located in the Indian and Pacific oceans. About a quarter of them can be found in the Atlantic and some have even been spotted near the coast of New York.

Whale Sharks Are Not Dangerous

One of the biggest myths about whale sharks is that they are dangerous. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whale sharks are gentle giants and pose not typically pose any threat to humans. In fact, whale sharks are often curious about divers and have been known to swim up to them and give them a little nudge.

That being said, trying to touch a whale shark while swimming with them may still be dangerous, as they may interpret your behavior as a threat. Always make sure to follow the instructions of the hopefully experienced guide.

A white shark in all its splendor

Getting Ready for Whale Shark Dives

If you’re interested in whale shark diving, there are a few things you should know. First, whale sharks are migratory creatures and their movements are dictated by the availability of food. This means that the best time to see whale sharks is during their peak feeding times, which vary depending on location.

You could be there

Another thing to keep in mind is that whale sharks are protected in many parts of the world. This means that there are regulations in place to ensure that whale shark diving is safe for both the sharks and the divers. Be sure to do your research and choose a reputable whale shark diving operator who follows all the necessary guidelines.

One of the best ways to see a whale shark up close is to go on a whale shark tour. These tours take place in areas where whale sharks are known to congregate. During a whale shark tour, you will have the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive with whale sharks.

You can search for reputable white shark tours from all over the world here.

Up For Some Snorkeling?

Perhaps this article has motivated you more than ever to do some swimming with whale sharks. If this is the case, fingers crossed, you’ll need it.

Just joking. Whale sharks are chill giants and you’ll most likely have a good time.

Happy snorkeling!


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