A whale shark

Whale shark

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

Rank: Species

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The Whale shark can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Australia, Great Barrier Reef, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


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

Conservation Status


  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2005

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Cartilaginous fish
  5. Sharks
  6. Orectolobiformes
  7. Rhincodontidae
  8. Rhincodon
  9. Whale shark

BBC News about Whale shark

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