Sharksonline's Blog

Whale shark

Posted on: March 11, 2010

Above the Whale shark

1. The whale shark inhabits all tropic and warm-temperate seas. Although typically seen offshore, it has been found closer to land, entering lagoons or coral atolls and near the mouths of estuaries and rivers. It is capable of diving to depths of 700 meters (2,300 ft), and is migratory.

2. As a filter feeder it mouth which can be up to 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) wide and can contain between 300 and 350 rows of tiny teeth. It has five large pairs of gills. Two small eyes are located towards the front of the shark’s wide, flat head. The body is mostly Grey with a white belly and three prominent ridges run along each side of the animal and the skin is marked with a “checkerboard” of pale yellow spots and stripes. These spots are different to each individual and are useful for counting populations. Its skin can be up to 10 centimeters (3.9 in) thick. The shark has a pair each of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. The whale shark is not a fast swimmer since it uses its entire body, usually for fish and has an average speed of only around 5-kilometer-per-hour (3.1 mph). The largest specimen was caught on November 11, 1947, near the island of Baba, not far from Karachi, Pakistan. It was 12.65 meters (41.50 ft) long, weighed more than 21.5 tonnes (47,000 lb).

3. The whale shark is a filter feeder  one of only three known filter feeding shark species. It feeds on macro-algae, plankton, krill, Christmas Island red crab larvae and small squid. The shark sucks in a mouthful of water, closes its mouth and expels the water through its gills. During the slight delay between closing the mouth and opening the gill flaps, plankton is trapped  in the mouth and then gets eating. Whale sharks have been observed “coughing” and it is presumed that this is a method of clearing a build up of food particles in the gill. Whale sharks migrate to feed and possibly to breed. The whale shark is an active feeder, targeting plankton or fish.

4. The whale shark, despite its size, does not pose danger to humans. Whale sharks are great for an example when educating the people about them and there sharks. They are actually quite gentle and can play with divers. Divers and snorkelers can swim with this giant fish without risk apart from blows from the shark’s large tail fin. The shark is seen by divers in many places around the world

5. The capture of a female in July 1996 which was pregnant with 300 pups. And know we known that the eggs remain in the body and then females give birth to live young pups which are 40 to 60 centimeters (16 to 24 in) long. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity at 30 years old and the life span of a whale shark  is estimated to be 70 to 100 years old.

All of this info is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark

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