My favorite shark of all is none other than the whale shark, so of course I had to do a Shark Week post about these docile behemoths. 🙂
As their name would imply, these magnificent creatures are HUGE. On average, a mature whale shark is estimated to reach lengths of 32 feet, and to weigh in at a massive average of 20,000 pounds! (Even larger specimens than that have been recorded, though, believe it or not.) It’s no surprise that they are the largest fish in the world.
Don’t let their massive size intimidate you though, because these sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean. They’re actually filter feeders who use their giant gaping mouths to dine on plankton and some small fish and other itty bitty sea critters.
Much like how two tigers never have the same stripes, no two whale sharks have the same spot/stripe pattern.
Whale sharks have some BIG mouths. (All the better to nom on all that tasty plankton with!) A mature whale shark’s mouth is about five feet wide on average and is home to over 300 teeth. (Again, no worries about them coming up to divers for a little nibble. They’re basically giant cinnamon rolls just floating around doing their thing.) Fun Fact, though: These guys will use their giant mouths to suck out a free meal from the full nets of fishermen. I personally find this hilarious. Way to stick it to the man, whale sharks!
All in all, whale sharks rock and are to be respected for the mellow and distinguished sharks they are.