Whale Shark - The World's Biggest Fish


largest mouth of sharks

A good look at an uncharacteristic mouth for a shark

 

At 46ft (14m) or maybe even bigger, the whale shark is the largest fish in the sea. The average length is about 26ft long. The whale shark is not a whale, it is a shark, but it is quite different than most other sharks in the way that it eats. It has a very large mouth in front, a big square head and distinctive coloring. They have little eyes, big gills, six ridges along their backs and pale white dots evenly spread about the body with a white belly.

 

 

captured specimen

This unlucky specimen shows how its skin can be 4 inches or thicker

 

This animal is a filter feeder, eating plankton and krill, straining water through the filters on its large gills (5 on each side). They can gather enough micro-organism food like this to be the biggest fish in the ocean, and can weigh as much as 15 tons. They do eat some small fish and squid also.

 

captured specimen

 

Whale sharks are very secretive and are usually seen alone. Not very much is known about them and their breeding habits. Nor is it known just how long they may live. They do prefer warmer waters around the world.

 

smallest individual whale shark

This is the smallest whale shark that has been found

 

When swimming near the surface and feeding, the sharks are often accompanied by many fish looking to catch some stray food or maybe just curious.

 

 

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