Whale Shark: Curiosities, Characteristics, Everything About This Species

The Whale Shark represents one of the main species that have the ability to feed by filtration.

Furthermore, this would be the only member of the Rhincodontidae family and the Rhincodon genus.

whale shark

Other interesting features are as follows:

This animal would be the largest non-mammalian vertebrate in existence and also reaches a life expectancy of 70 years.

So, read on and learn more about the species.


  • Scientific name – Rhincodon typus;
  • Family – Rhincodontidae.

Features of the Whale Shark

The Whale Shark Fish was listed in 1828, shortly after the capture of a specimen measuring 4.6 m.

The capture took place in South Africa and its common name of “whale shark” refers to its size.

Generally speaking, this species reaches a length as great as some species of whale.

The common name was also given thanks to its different way of feeding, something that would be similar to the whales of the Mysticeti order.

In this sense, know that the species has a mouth with a width of 1.5 m, in addition to 300 to 350 rows of tiny teeth.

Inside the mouth are filter pads that fish use to feed.

It is worth mentioning that individuals have five large pairs of gills, as well as the head would be flat and wide.

The animal’s eyes are small and it has a gray color on its body, while its belly would be white.

There are white or yellowish spots and stripes all over the body and the pattern would be unique for each individual.

Incidentally, it has 3 prominent bumps on the side of its body, as well as its skin is up to 10 cm thick.

Finally, the largest specimen was captured with 12.65 m and a weight of 21.5 tons.

Whale Shark Reproduction

There is still little information about the reproduction of the Whale Shark Fish, but with the capture of a pregnant female with 300 offspring, it was possible to check the following:

It is common for the eggs to stay inside the female’s body and they give birth to young about 60 cm long.

In this sense, many studies indicate that puppies are not born all at once.

This means that the female has the ability to retain sperm from a mating and produce a steady stream of offspring over a long period.

In view of this, know that fish reach sexual maturity at 30 years of age and live from 70 to 100 years.


The Whale Shark Fish is a filter feeder and only this and two other shark species have the ability.

The other species would be the elephant shark and the bigmouth shark.

Therefore, feeding through filtration would be when the animal opens its mouth and swims forward.

With this, he pushes both water and food into the mouth and manages to expel the water through the gills.

That is, the fish can separate food from water.

In this way, individuals eat plankton, including copepods, krill, crab larvae, squid, fish, and fish eggs.

Sharks are also great egg predators.

Therefore, individuals simply take the opportunity to eat the clouds of eggs that are produced in the spawning of other species.


Among the curiosities about the Whale Shark Fish, it is worth mentioning its migration habit.

According to a study that analyzed the migration of a whale shark in the year 2018, the individual managed to travel more than 19,000 km.

Basically this specific migration took place from the Pacific Ocean to the Indo-Pacific.

That is, the animal migrated from Panama to an area close to the Philippines.

And several other individuals of the species have already been observed and in fact managed to reach impressive distances.

With this, it is possible to affirm that the seasonal aggregations of the species occur every year, especially between the months of May and September.

Another interesting curiosity about the whale shark would be its interaction with humans.

Although it has a large size, the species does not present any type of danger to humans.

Generally speaking, fish are docile and even allow the swimmer to touch or swim alongside them.

There were even cases of sharks playing with divers, which proves to us that the animal does not pose a risk to us.

But, of course, we must be very careful.

Where to find the Whale Shark

The Whale Shark Fish is present in tropical oceanic open waters, that is, the tropical and temperate seas.

Therefore, it swims in the open sea and prefers places with a depth of up to 1,800 m.

Some regions where the species is present may be southern and eastern South Africa and Saint Helena Island.

Western Australia, India, Philippines, Mexico, Maldives, Indonesia, Gulf of Tadjoura in Djibouti and the Arabian Sea are also some common places to see the shark.

However, be aware that distribution can occur in several locations around the world, which makes it impossible to name them all.

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