Tag Archives: whale shark

Is a Whale Shark a Shark?

Whale sharks look quite different to how we imagine a shark to look. They are enormous, reaching 12 meters or more in length and weighing as much as 16 tons – basically, they are about the size of a bus! And they don’t have sharp teeth, in fact their teeth don’t really assist in feeding at all. So, it’s no surprise that people often ask us the question…is a whale shark a shark?

Are Whale Sharks Really Sharks?

The answer is yes, whale sharks really are sharks. They have all the 33 characteristics of a shark, such as a cartilage skeleton, five pairs of gills and unfused pectoral fins to the head. Unlike whales, they are not mammals and their young are not fed by the mother’s milk. Like sharks, whale sharks are fish. In fact they are the largest fish in the ocean. So, whale sharks really are sharks…and they get their name from the fact that they are enormous!

What Do Whale Sharks Eat? 

Whale sharks have rows of over 300 tiny teeth, but as filter feeders they do not use these teeth to eat. Instead, whale sharks (and other filter feeding sharks) swim along the ocean’s currents with their huge mouths open wide, filtering large quantities of water as they go and extracting tiny organisms called plankton & krill from the water. A whale shark’s mouth is about 1.5 meters wide, so it’s an impressive sight!

The 3 largest sharks include (in size order)

  1. Whale Shark 17 meters
  2. Basking Shark 15 m
  3. Megamouth Shark 7-8 m

All filter feeders!

Diet: Plankton (tiny organisms), krill and small fish

Ten Amazing Whale Shark Facts

  1. Largest fish and shark in the world
  2. Habitat: warm open waters of the tropical oceans 
  3. Whale sharks spend most of their time near the surface
  4. Lifespan: 70 to 100 years
  5. Average length of an adult: 9.7 meters
  6. Average weight: 9 tonnes
  7. Teeth: over 300 rows of tiny teeth – not used for eating!
  8. Whale sharks are solitary creatures
  9. Filter feeders – feeding mainly on plankton
  10. Able to process over 6,000 litres of water each hour

Why We Need Sharks

Learn more about sharks? 

online shark course

Check out our Amazing Sharks Online Shark Course

Check out our Shark Resources

 

 

Further reading…

Save Our Seas – Whale Sharks Down Under

 

Whale Shark Fast Facts

Whale sharks are truly amazing creatures. Check out our whale shark fast facts to learn some jaw-dropping facts about them…

Ten Amazing Facts About Whale Sharks

  1. The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest fish and shark in the world
  2. The whale shark is found in warm open waters of the tropical oceans 
  3. The lifespan of the whale shark ranges from 70 to 100 years
  4. The whale shark is also the largest non-cetacean animal in the world
  5. The average length of an adult whale sharks is 9.7 meters and they weigh on average 9 tonnes
  6. Whale sharks have over 300 rows of tiny teeth – not used for eating!
  7. Whale sharks are solitary creatures
  8. Whale sharks spend most of their time near the surface
  9. The whale shark is a filter feeder, feeding mainly on plankton
  10. Whale sharks can process over 6,000 litres (1,500 gallons) of water each hour

Want to know more about sharks? 

online shark course

Check out our Amazing Sharks Online Shark Course

Check out our Shark Resources

 

 

Further reading…

Save Our Seas – Whale Sharks Down Under