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Whale Shark

on December 1, 2007; last updated December 1, 2007
Aquarium Guide - Mini

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).

Whale Shark

Design

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.

Features

  • The whale shark is dark gray or greenish gray from its back to the middle of its sides. Its belly is off-white.
  • White or light yellow spots and lines are also distinguishing features of the whale shark.
  • Whale sharks can grow to a length of 60 ft (18 m).

Fun Facts

  • The whale shark is the largest fish in the world.
  • It can reach up to 150 years of age.
  • The whale shark’s mouth can open up to 5 ft (1.5 m) wide and can contain up to 300 rows of tiny teeth.

CLASS: Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish—sharks, skates, and rays)

ORDER: Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks)

FAMILY: Rhincodontidae

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

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