Among the most sought-after and popular marine animals which divers are looking for in the world are whale sharks. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the water together with these fantastic, majestic, massive, and graceful sea creatures, you will have an experience that’s incomparable to anything in life.
In case you’ve ever been part of a diving expedition, and lucky enough to be able to swim near one of these great whale sharks, you surely will be able to conform how addicting this experience can be, and chances are you’ll be aching to do this all over again as soon as you can.
1. The Largest Fish in the Sea are Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are the largest fish species known to man. They are really gentle giants, and can, on average, reach to the incredible length of twelve meters or more. There have been whale sharks that reached the incredible length of almost 20 meters in size.
Whale Sharks can reach a weight of some 30,000 kilos, or more than 31 metric tons. Suppose you’ve been thinking that some sharks could be big, think again! Sharks are, compared to whale sharks, actually pretty small. Read on to learn more about this fantastic giant of the sea.
2. Whale Sharks Feed on Plankton, Despite Their Size
Instead of swallowing up marine mammals or all sorts of fish, or for that matter even humans, whale sharks are preferring to feed on plankton. You may not have expected this, but whale sharks really feed on plankton which includes the tiniest plants and fish, but also very small crustaceans. They majestic sea giants typically feed at locations close to the surface of the water, and they eat by gulping huge amounts of water which they filter for food.
3. Whale Sharks can be Found Across the World
Whale sharks have a preference for warm waters, but they can be seen swimming in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean. There are dive sites where you can see these impressive sea creatures for the greater part of the year, whereas at other dive locations you can enjoy them only for a few months.
So if it is your goal to snorkel or dive while admiring one of these sea giants, make sure that you know where and when you’re planning your diving trip. The best chances for encountering a whale shark all through the year round are found in Roatan Island (Honduras), the east coast of Taiwan , and the Seychelles.
4. You Can Tell Females from Males
If you would like to determine whether you are swimming together with a female or male whale shark, check out if the animal has a pair of claspers. These are special appendages that can only be found on male whale sharks. These claspers are used by the males during mating, and another hint is that, on average, females whale sharks are larger than male ones.
5. Baby Whale Sharks are Small and Born from Eggs
Whale sharks are really huge by the time they become of adult age, but when they are born, this is (understandably) a totally different thing when they are born. You may think at first that whale sharks are pretty big, even when they’ve just been born, baby whale sharks are actually quite small. A new-born whale shark is just under one meter in length (3 ft.), and a female whale shark is not laying her eggs before they have developed within her body.
6. Whale Sharks Migrate Over Long Distances
These massive whale sharks are known to be a migratory species, and herein lies the reason that in some dive locations you can see these sea creatures only during certain months of the year. It is really amazing just how far these beautiful sea giants can travel. They are known to be able to migrate more than 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) during a few months when they are a specific migration.
7. Whale Sharks can Live Long
Scientists are having slightly different views of exactly how long whale sharks may live, they generally estimate that these great animals, when they are not hunted down, can be living for as long as 100 to 150 years, but there scientists who are reckoning with a typical lifespan of some 70 years. We also know that these wonderful sea animals do not start their reproducing activities they reach the age of about 30.