Whale Shark Structure
The Whale Shark is the largest shark known out of all the species. The Whale Shark is 18-35 feet in length and the average length is 25 feet. The Whale Shark has a broad, flat head. Their primary colors are dark gray, bronze,or greenish gray on the upper side of the body. They have a cream color on the underside of their head. An interesting feature is they have random white dots and lines along their backs. It is a pattern of light spots and horizontal and vertical lines. Their second dorsal fin is relatively small. Lastly,they have ridges along their sides and on each side of their candual fin.
Details about how the Whale Shark reproduces are scarce. An egg containing a whale-shark embryo was found in the Gulf of Mexico in 1953, and some people felt this meant the Whale Shark is oviparious (the young hatch outside the mother's body). Other people believe that the shark embryo was aborted and that the young sharks hatch from eggs inside the mother shark. There is no evidence to support either theory.
This shark either swims alone or in groups of hundreds of Whale Sharks. Imagine being in a boat with one hundred Whale Sharks swimming right at you!
The Whale Shark is a filter feeder. While the Whale Shark swims, it sucks in massive amounts of water with small prey. It then forces the water out through it's mouth. The prey they eat includes plankton, krill, small fish, and squid. Whale Sharks have never eaten humans; in fact they have been known to give humans rides.
Whale Sharks are located near the Equator around coast lines and open seas. They swim mostly along the top of the surface.
- Western Atlantic: New York to central Brazil and including Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.
- Eastern Atlantic: Senegal, Mauritania,Cape Verde Islands, Gulf of Guinea.
- Indo-West and Central Pacific: SouthAfrica and Red Sea to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, China,Japan, Philippines, Indonesia (Kalimantan, Java, Irian Jaya), Papua NewGuinea, Australia (Queensland, Northern Territory), New Caledonia, HawaiianIslands.
- Eastern Pacific: Southern California to northern Chile.
- Indian Ocean: the Seychelles, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Madagascar,Mozambique and northernmost Natal.