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photos of  whale sharks

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nu1972-D. Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), 40' long, with scuba diver (model released). Galapagos, Pacific Ocean.
whale shark underwater photograph with scuba divers
nu2042-D. Whale Shark, world's largest fish. Hires images available for download
whale shark picture, curious animal portrait
nu2069-D. Whale Shark, stock photograph from the Galapagos Islands
underwater photo of whale shark, Rhincodon typus
nu2104-D. Whale Shark, huge tail fin with remoras. Dramatic professional images for sale
whale shark tail marine photography by Brandon Cole

more photos


   vitals                                                              bio
Whale Shark
scientific name Rhincodon typus
range Worldwide, most tropical seas
Galapagos, Western Australia, Seychelles
habitat Coastal, open ocean
size To 50 feet (16m)
diet Plankton, small fish
trivia World’s largest living fish; only member of its family; harmless
The epitome of a gentle giant, the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus, is of course a shark (a cartilaginous fish), not a whale. Its massive size is the only reason for the "whale" name. It has gills, not lungs, and never needs to come to the surface to breathe. Certain reports hint that 60 foot long specimens might have once wandered Planet Ocean, but now a 50 footer is considered huge. Depending on the location and time of year, whale sharks between 8 and 30 feet are most commonly spotted. Identification of this species is easy- a wide, slit-like mouth is at the front of its snout (not underneath); an elaborate pattern of white spots and lines mark its dark back; and of course, its size.
     The whale shark can be observed swimming near the surface, cavernous mouth wide open as it slurps up plankton (such as tiny crustaceans) and occasionally schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies. A filter feeder, food is strained from the water by spongy filters over the gill slits. Lucky scuba divers and snorkelers swim alongside feeding whale sharks at sites such as Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos Islands, and Ningaloo Reef in Australia.
     Rhincodon typus is a livebearer (ovoviviparous), giving birth to hundreds of live young averaging 2 feet long. In some parts of the world, whale sharks are disappearing at an alarming rate. Like so many shark species, they are suffering from the largely uncontrolled sharkfin fishing industry. As we know next to nothing about whale shark biology, their migratory patterns, and other crucial pieces of its life cycle, we are in danger of exterminating one of Earth’s most amazing animals.


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