Whale Shark

The Whale Shark is not a whale at all--it is a fish! Actually, it is the largest known fish and the largest known shark in the world. It can grow to be 45 feet long and weighs as much as 15 tons. Whale sharks are greyish or bluish above, with a pattern of creamy white spots and pale stripes that look almost like a checkerboard. They have a flat, blunt head, a humped back, and ridges along their sides. Whale sharks also have very thick skin.

Although it is so large, the whale shark feeds mostly on plankton, as well as on small fish and crustaceans. As it swims through the water, this shark uses a suction mechanism in its mouth to pull the plankton in and through its gill filters. Even though it has 3,000 tiny teeth, the whale shark does not use them when catching food. They like to live in warm, tropical waters far in the open seas. This fish has been seen in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. The whale shark is active both during the day and at night.

Whale sharks are solitary animals; they are usually seen alone and don't swim in large groups. However, they are harmless and often curious about humans nearby. Whale sharks are rare in the fish world because they give birth to live young even though they have eggs. The egg is laid and develops inside the female and live young are later born during the summer months.

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