The Whale shark

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a slow-moving carpet shark that feeds on filters. The largest confirmed individual measured 18.8 m (62 ft.).The whale shark holds many height records in the animal kingdom, particularly being by far the largest non-mammalian vertebrate alive. It is the only member of the genus Rhincodon and the only surviving member of the family Rhincodontidae, belonging to the subclass Elasmobranchii.

The whale shark has found in open waters of the tropical oceans and is rarely found in waters below 21°C (70°F). Studies on vertebral growth bands and the growth rates of free-swimming sharks have estimated the lifespan of whale sharks at 80-130 years. Whale sharks have very large mouths and are filter feeders, which is a diet mode that occurs in just two other sharks, the megamouth shark, and the basking shark.

Whale Shark Size and Facts

They feed almost entirely on plankton and small fish and represent no threat to humans.

The whale shark mouths can hold over 300 rows of tiny teeth and 20 filter pads it uses to filter food. Unlike many other sharks, the mouths of whale sharks are located forward of the head rather than below the head. It has been reported that a 12.1 m (39.7 ft) whale shark has a mouth width of 1.55 m (5.1 ft).

The head is large and flat with two small eyes in the front angles. The spiracles are situated right behind the eyes. Whale sharks have five large pairs of gills. Their skin is dark gray with a white belly marked with white or pale gray spots and stripes which are unique to each individual. The skin can reach a thickness of 15 cm and is very hard and rough to the touch. The whale shark has three prominent ridges along its sides that begin above and behind the head and end at the caudal peduncle.

The shark has two relatively distant dorsal fins on its body, one pair of pectoral fins, one pair of pelvic fins, and one internal anal fin. The superior lobe of the tail is larger than the inferior lobe (heterocercal). Whale sharks have been found to have skin teeth on the surface of their eyeballs that are structured differently from their body teeth. These denticles serve to protect the eye from damage, and the whale shark’s ability to retract its eye deep into its cavity.

The whale shark is the greatest non-cetacean animal in the world. Evidence suggests that whale sharks display sexual dimorphism in terms of size, with males not as large as females.

The growth, longevity, and reproduction of whale sharks are not well understood. There was uncertainty as to whether vertebrae growth bands are formed annually or twice a year, which is important in determining the age, growth, and longevity of whale sharks.

Where can we find Whale Shark?

Basically, the whale shark can be seen in all tropical and warm temperate seas. Fish are mainly pelagic and can be found in coastal and oceanic habitats living in the open sea but not in the greater depths of the ocean, although it is known to occasionally dive to depths of as much as 1,900 meters (6,200 ft). It migrates with two distinct subpopulations: an Atlantic subpopulation from Maine and the Azores to Cape Agulhas, South Africa, and an Indo-Pacific subpopulation that holds 75% of the entire whale shark population. It generally moves between 30°N and 35°S when the water temperature exceeds 21°C (70°F).

Whale Shark Feeding Habits

Whale shark consumption organism Rhincodon types feed passively by swimming through the water, typically close to the surface, with their mouths open, straining organism, shrimp, shrimplike malacostracan crustacean, squid, fish spawns, and little schooling fish. They by design search out food, going once dense concentrations of little marine life, instead of straining the open sea like basking sharks. Whale sharks have twenty-seven,000 little very {little} teeth that serve little purpose, however, are just like teeth found in 400-million-year-old fossil sharks.

Whale sharks are thought to be “suction filter feeders.” Food-filled saltwater flows through their jaws— which may be over a meter across—and is strained with porous sieve-like gill plates, with the prey that is still within the mouth being directed towards the system. Channels behind the gill plates direct the filtered water over its gill filaments, which extract atomic number 8 for respiration. The filtered water is then free although the whale sharks gill slits. during this method, the shark will generate suction to attract its food, maybe by increasing the rima oris and depressing the tongue-like structure on the ground of its mouth.

Once feeding whale sharks generally lift their head on top of the surface so sinks quickly to draw water into their mouths to make a suction impact granting the intake of abundant larger amounts of prey than if they only drifted through the ocean. Generally, they drop their tail to anchor themselves in position on the ocean floor and suck fish in by making a vacuum with the gap and shutting of their mouth.

Whale sharks use their mouths like big buckets to entice food. Their mouth is at AN uncommon position for a fish. generally, whale sharks collect plenty of garbage. A bucket, boot, and billfold were found within the abdomen of 1. Accidently engulfed massive objects are expelled once the fish turns its abdomen within out and thrusts the article out of its mouth.

Is it safe to swim with Whale Shark?

Despite its size, the whale shark poses no danger to people. Whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to catch a merry-go-round even though this practice is discouraged by scientists and conservationists because of the disturbance to the sharks. Juvenile whale sharks are mild and can play with divers. Underwater photographers such as Fiona Ayerst photographed them swimming around humans safely.

The population of Whale Shark?

There are currently no solid estimates of the world population of whale sharks. The species is considered endangered by IUCN due to fisheries impacts, bycatch losses, and ship strikes, combined with its long lifespan. Hundreds of whale sharks are killed illegally each year in China for their fins, hides, and oil. The whale shark is popular in the rare public aquariums that conserve it, but its large size means that a very large tank is needed and it has specialized feeding requirements.

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