The largest fish in the sea: Whale Sharks

whale_shark

How much do you know about whale sharks?

Probably not much, which is how much I knew before I came across this article in Deep Sea News that reveals that scientists don’t know as much about them either.

So naturally, I did a little research to find out more information about Whale Sharks, and realized that I have seen the species in person in Atlanta a few years back. The Georgia Aquarium is one of only a few places in the world that has whale shark exhibits and the others are in Asia.

The whale shark is not a whale– it’s a shark– which allows it to be the biggest FISH on Earth. And just as a refresher from your high school biology class: Whales are mammals, so yes, the biggest animal on earth is a blue whale, which incidentally, is not a fish.

But apparently scientists didn’t know anything at all about the biochemistry of the species, which is amazing to me since they are fairly common in the ocean despite being overfished in Asia. Researchers only just published a paper on the species’ biochemistry on Nov. 15.

But at least wek know the basics:

The largest known whale shark clocked in at 40 feet, 7 inches long (about the size of a school bus), though the aquarium says there was an unverified report of a 60-foot whale shark in 1925.

What is very cool about the whale shark is that like some other neat fish that live in the tropics, it has spots on its back.

But you don’t need to have nightmares about a spotted whale shark witha 4-foot-wide mouth, these animals eat plankton and small fish that they catch by swimming around with their mouth open and filtering everything into its mouth that is small enough to eat.

Photo (cc) by Noodlefish and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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