Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

06/10/2016

Whale Shark, Shark island, Koh Tao, Thailand. Photo by Alex Rush.

  • It’s a shark, not a whale — whale sharks are fish and breath through their gills.
  • They are named Whale Shark because of their size, and the fact they are filter feeders, like whales. However, they have cartilage, instead of bone making them a true shark.
  • Whale shark’s display a distinctive pattern of white spots, on a dark gray background with a white underbelly. The pattern is unique to each individual.
  • They are the largest fish in the world. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 meters and a weight of about 21.5 t. However, there have been unconfirmed reports of Whale sharks up to 20 meters long!
  • Whale sharks are Filter feeders. They eat minute plankton including krill, crab larvae and jellyfish. It also feeds on clouds of eggs during mass spawning of fish and corals.
  • A Whale sharks mouth can be as big as 1.5 m wide and contain as many as 3000 tiny teeth.
  • Little is known about a whale shark’s lifespan but estimations suggest they live between 70 & 100 years.
  • Females give birth to live young that develop from eggs inside the mother prior to birth. As many as 300 are born, measuring 40-70cm in length.
  • Whale sharks are found throughout tropical and temperate waters.

  • Although March-June is often referred to as «Whale shark season» on Koh Tao, these magnificent creatures are spotted year round.

    Whale Shark. White rock, Koh Tao, Thailand. Photo by Alex Rush