Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, with the longest ever recorded at over 13.5m. Fortunately, they are harmless filter feeders that suck in plankton and small fish. Curiously, there are rows of tiny teeth within the whale shark's impressively large mouth that, as yet, serve no known function. These distinctively yellow-spotted sharks are migratory and found throughout the world's oceans, preferring the warm and tropical waters around the equator.
Scientific name: Rhincodon typus
Whale sharks gather in Arabian waters during summer, but their lives remain a mystery.
Spectacular numbers of whale sharks gather in Arabian waters during the summer, but their lives still remain a mystery.
The world's largest fish survives on the smallest organism... or does it?
The crew seized an unexpected opportunity, when a perfect set of technical and animal circumstances converged, to film this behaviour for the first time. The diversion afforded by the tuna attack allows the unwieldy whale shark time to turn on the baitfish sheltering under its bulk. Interesting to the observers was that it didn't just ram feed but actively gulped deliberate great mouthfuls.
The following habitats are found across the Whale shark distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Decreasing
Year assessed: 2005
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
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