Common Name: Whale Shark
Scientific Name: Rhincodon typus
Size: Up to 18m, but individuals between 4m and 12m are more common.
Found: In Tropical and warm-temperate oceans worldwide. Generally restricted to waters between +/- 30° latitude.
Population Status: Vulnerable to Extinction (IUCN 2008)
Whale sharks have around 300-350 rows of tiny hook-like teeth only a few millimetres wide. These teeth however are not used for feeding. Whale Sharks
are filter feeders eating mostly plankton and small fish. They have specialised gills which are used to filter food out of the water, and can sometimes been seen hanging vertically whilst feeding.
Believed to be Ovoviviparous - eggs hatch inside the mother and live young are born. Little is known about the reproduction of this species. Information comes from only a few wild specimens.
One was found with 300 pups inside, indicating that they are ovoviviparous. The eggs remain in the body and the females give birth to live young which are 40cm to 60cm long. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity at around 30 years and the life span has been estimated to be over 100 years.
It is capable of diving to depths of over 700 metres
It’s mouth can be up to 1.5m wide
They are slow swimmers - averaging only 5 klm per hour.
This species is particularly vulnerable to commercial fisheries.