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The whale shark is dark gray or greenish gray from its back to the middle of its sides. Its belly is off-white. Whale sharks can grow to a length of 60 ft (18 m).
Despite the immense size of this creature, it does not need to be feared by man; it feeds mostly on zooplankton and small fish. It has gill rakers in its mouth that filter the food from the water it has taken in. The water then passes through the gill slits, and the food is swallowed. It is said that the whale shark can filter as much as 1,500 gallons (6,000 l) of water every hour when feeding.
CLASS: Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish—sharks, skates, and rays)
ORDER: Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks)
GENUS/SPECIES: Rhincodon typus
Size: 30–46 ft (12–20 m); females are larger than males.
Weight: Up to 20 tons
Diet: Plankton, small fish
Habitat: In the warm waters around the equator worldwide, except for the Mediterranean Sea