The Lafayette Ledger

The Student News Site of Lafayette High School

The Lafayette Ledger

The Lafayette Ledger

Whale Sharks

Facts and information about Whale Sharks
Swimming beside the Whale Shark, the swimmer inspects the creature.

What do you know about Whale Sharks? Most know little to nothing about these creatures, and only knowing them due to funny/cute clips of them found on TikTok. This species variation of shark is endangered, only about 200,000-240,000 of them remaining. They are being killed rapidly by fishing and pollution, even though naturally they are supposed to live a very long life, naturally living 70-150 years. That is, if they can reach adulthood, as only 10% of Whale Sharks reach maturity. Due to their enormous size, they are rarely found in aquariums, as most aquariums do not have the appropriate housing available for them. This is due to their size, as they can reach 12 meters long and can weigh up to 20 tons, making them the largest fish in the world. They can be found in a few aquariums, such as the Georgia Aquarium, the Churaumi Aquarium, the Kaiyukan Aquarium, and The Ioworld Kagoshima Aquarium. Out of this list, only one of them is in America, the other three are in Japan. One of the only other places you can spot a Whale Shark is in Tanzania. Specifically, Mafia Island, Tanzania. This island gets lots of traffic during October through March for Whale Shark watching. Visiting this island is a way to also watch Whale Sharks in the wild, rather than in an aquarium. Still, it is rare for people to see Whale Sharks due to them being endangered, and how difficult it is to find places to see them. Due to this fact, most will go their entire lifetime without seeing a Whale Shark in real life.

The large Whale Shark is surrounded by many tiny fish. (Reader’s Digest)

What do Whale Sharks even do in their day to day? Well, their presence in an underwater ecosystem is a good sign that it is thriving, as they eat plankton. They eat the excess plankton, causing the territory around them to be healthy for not only them, but the other sea creatures around them. As they are around areas with many plankton, they are usually in thriving biomes. They do not eat much other than plankton, as they are very harmless creatures. This is because they only eat plankton, and have adapted to have many tiny teeth, that are only used to absorb their plankton snacks. Other than plankton, they can consume up to 10,000 gallons of water a day, due to their extremely large mouth and body. Interestingly enough, female whale sharks are larger than male whale sharks.

The Whale Shark swims elegantly through the water, as the sunlight shines through the water.

A common misconception about Whale Sharks is that they are whales, but they are just sharks. They are called Whale Sharks due to their enormous size, and they have some visual similarities to whales. One of these similarities include that their mouths are in the front of their head, which is very uncommon for sharks. They also do not have bones, but instead they consist of cartilage. The only sharks that share a few traits to Whale Sharks are the Basking Sharks and the Megamouth Shark, their only comparability between them is that all three of them feed on plankton. They are not closely related, however. They are closely related to Nurse Sharks, Zebra Sharks, and Wobbegongs.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Lafayette Ledger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *