Whale Shark

Rhincodon typus

The Whale Shark is the largest of all shark and fish species alive. This creature can be recognized by its massive size and distinctive polka dot pattern on their hides. Although they are actually members of the shark family, they bear many similarities to whales (part of the reason why they are referred to as “whale sharks”), including their size and how they feed. They do not have teeth like most shark species; instead, they use baleen plates and baleen hairs to catch the food they filter in. Their diet consists primarily of plankton, krill, small squids and even the occasional small fish.  It is an active feeder, and is known for using ram-feeding techniques in order to gather as much food as it can.

Despite their intimidating size, they are actually quite docile. They allow divers to swim next to them, and they even allow divers to catch rides on their back sometimes. Ever since humans knew about them, they had become involved in the lore of many cultures. Some ancient cultures even worshipped them. Currently, their species is listed by the IUCN as a “Vulnerable” species. In many countries, fishing of these sharks has been banned, but there are still some countries that allow for whalers to hunt them, including Taiwan and the Philippines.

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