Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest shark, and indeed largest of any fishes alive today. They feed on plankton and travel large distances to find enough food to sustain their huge size, and to reproduce. Whale sharks are found in all the tropical oceans of the world. Their white spotted colouration makes these gentle giants easy to distinguish, and popular with snorkelers and divers at sites where they aggregate off the coast.
The maximum size of whale sharks is not known, but could be as large as 20m. Females give birth to live young but this has never been observed. Where pupping occurs and where the youngest animals situate remains a mystery, as they are very rarely found. Adults are often found feeding at the surface, but may dive to 1000m. Whale sharks are protected from fishing in many countries these days, but are in decline in some areas.
- WEIGHTaround 11 tons
- LENGTHaround 40 feet