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<< Page 1 Whale Shark / Largest Fish in the World

Page 2 - Largest Whale Shark

By: C.M.Shorter

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Baby Whale Shark
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The greatest length accurately measured for a Whale Shark was 12 meters or 39 ft. in length and weighing in at up to 75,000 pounds.   It is the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximum) that is the world’s second largest fish.  Whale Sharks are in the marine subclass Elasmobranchii (Sharks & Rays) in the class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish).  Our TigerHomes Education Center features articles on Marine Mammals, where you can learn about the Humpback Whale which measures an incredible 36-50 feet in length and can weigh in between 33-44 tons!  You can also learn about the Killer Whale and Beluga Whale or “White Whale” one of only two species in the Monodontida family.  TigerHomes also features some amazing Animal Facts including some unusual animal trivia about the “Blue Whale”.   Speaking of Shark Trivia, the Whale Shark has an exceptionally large mouth up to 5 feet wide (1.5 meters), which contains up to 300 rows of small teeth.  They use their baleen teeth like sieves, taking in large amounts of water, filtering it & then retaining their prey.


As part of the Whale Shark’s filter feeding process they come equipped with 5 large pairs of gill arches.  Whale Sharks bodies are blue-grey in color bearing their signature pale yellow stripes and spot “carpet markings” with a white belly.  They have two small eyes positioned forward on its wide, flat head with spiracles located just behind the eyes.  Whale Sharks have three prominent ridges running along each side and have two pairs of pectoral and dorsal fins.  This magnificent creature is particularly in need of protection because it is a relatively slow breeder with sexual maturity estimated at between 20-30 years.  Whale Sharks are ovoviviparous with young hatching from eggs retained within the mother then giving birth to live young.  Whale Shark populations are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because it is a long-lived species with a very slow reproduction rate. The world's Largest fish does not reach sexual maturity until an estimated 20-30 years with a lifespan of 80-100 years.  Whale Sharks were not persecuted in mass numbers by whalers historically because of their tremendous body weight combined with a relatively small liver. This species does serve in testimony to man's shameful waste and is still targeted for its fins used in making Shark Fin Soup, particularly prevalent in the Asian market.  Currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and Listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).  The Whale Shark is also listed on the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention).

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