7 Facts about Whale Sharks

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The shark is seen by divers in many places, including the Bay Islands in Honduras; Thailand; the Philippines; the Maldives; Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef; Isla Mujeres, Mexico; La Paz, Mexico; the Seychelles; and Sri Lanka. Here are 7 facts about these beautiful animals.

1. The biggest fish in the sea is a slow-moving, filter-feeding docile giant. The largest confirmed whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was 41.5 feet long and weighed about 21.5 tons.

2. Whale sharks are filter feeders and sieve plankton through their gills for much of their nourishment. They also sieve squid, krill, and small fish. Whale sharks have about 3,000 tiny teeth (less than 1-inch long), but they don’t use their teeth to eat.

3. Whale sharks have a lifespan that’s estimated to be 70 to 100 years.

4. They reach sexual maturity at around 30 years. The eggs of the whale shark remain in the body and the females give birth to live young, which are 16 to 24 inches long. There is some evidence that suggests the pups are not all born at once, but rather over a prolonged period. They reach sexual maturity at around 30 years and their lifespan is an estimated 70[5] to 100 years

5. In 2009, scientists in the Philippines discovered what is believed to be the smallest living whale shark. Only 15 inches long, the baby whale shark was found with its tail tied to a stake at a beach in Pilar, Sorsogon, Philippines. The scientists released it into the wild.

6. While it’s not known what the global whale shark population is, the species is considered endangered by the IUCN due to the impacts of fisheries, bycatch losses and vessel strikes.

7. Whale sharks are held in captivity, including the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Source: Sport Diver

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