Happy #FishyFriday everyone, today’s post features the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
Whales sharks are not whales, their name is due to their size (as big as whales) and that they filter-feed (like large humpback whales). However, they have cartilage instead of bone and breathe via their gills.
Reaching lengths of 40 feet or more and weighing up to 20 tonnes they are the largest of any fish alive today.
Found in all the tropical oceans of the world they feed on plankton and travel large distances to find enough food to sustain their huge size, and to reproduce.
Females give birth to live young, but this has never been observed. Where pupping occurs and where the youngest animals settle remains a mystery. Adults are often found feeding at the surface but may dive to 1000m.
It is estimate that less than 10% of Whales Sharks born survive to adulthood but they could live for up to 150 years.
Whale sharks are protected from fishing in many countries, but tragically they are still caught in some areas for their fins. Climate change, entanglement and plastic pollution puts further pressure on these magnificent gentle giants.