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Quick Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Orectolobiformes
Family: Rhincodontidae
Genus: Rhincodon
Species: typus

Length: 552 inches
Weight: 30000 lbs
Life Span: 100 years
Top Speed (Water): 3 mph

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Whale Shark

Rhincodon typus


The whale shark is both the biggest shark and the biggest fish. Like all sharks, it has a skeleton made of cartilageWhat does cartilage mean? and very rough skin. The skin of the whale shark can be 4 inches thick. Unlike many sharks, the mouth of the whale shark is at the tip of its body and not on the ventralWhat does ventral mean? surface. They are usually a dark color with a random pattern of white to yellow dots and dashes over the surface of their bodies.


The whale shark is a filter feeder and strains seawater through a spongy material attached to its gillWhat does gill mean? arches to get food. Its primary food is plankton but it will eat other small animals as well (fish, squid, etc.)


Whale sharks live in warm water around the world. They spend most of their time near the surface.


Whale sharks are solitaryWhat does solitary mean? creatures and are rarely found in a large group. Despite their size and appearance, they are no danger to humans and divers frequently swim near them with no fear. Whale sharks are also highly migratory and basically follow where the plankton, their primary source of food, leads.


Scientists currently know very little about the reproductive details of the whale shark. They are not even sure if whale sharks give birth to live young or lay eggs.

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