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Whale Shark Awareness

Though Whale Sharks are the largest fish on the planet, these “gentle giants” are filter-feeders and therefore are harmless to humans. Being a filter-feeder means these large creatures (which can reach over 40 ft.) feed on tiny ocean organisms- plankton. These fish have skeletons made entirely of cartilage, rather than bone like the majority of sea animals. The pattern of spots around the gill area on a Whale Shark are unique to each individual allowing researchers to identify individual sharks. The mouth of the whale shark can reach a width of approximately 3 feet.

Whale sharks can be found in waters of over 100 countries, but typically stay in tropical and warm temperate seas, both in oceanic and coastal waters.

Status: Vulnerable

Whale sharks live long lives and therefore mature late- doesn’t produce offspring until 30+ years of age.

Current threats to the whale shark include: habitat loss, coastal development, collision with boats, and disturbance by boats/divers engaged in irresponsible tourism activities.