The whale shark is the largest fish specie in the world. Let us correct that, it is the largest fish specie that is still in existence. There have been artifacts found and the researchers are claiming it to be bigger than the whale shark. But in this active, lively world of ours, the whale shark certainly reigns.
The Greatest Underwater
The whale shark, which has a scientific name of Rhincodon Typus, is obviously the largest among the shark specie. It is slow moving but none can underestimate its size.
The biggest whale shark ever found tipped the scale at 47,000 pounds or 21.5 tons. Its length was measured at 41.5 feet or 12.65 meters. There were reports of even larger whale sharks but none of them was confirmed.
Whale sharks mostly thrive in tropical countries. They live in open seas and feed mostly on planktons. Yes, you read that right. Although whale sharks are humongous, they are not to be feared. They do not have that thing with meat. All they eat are microscopic plants and some small fishes.
Whale sharks live long. They have a lifespan of 70 years. That’s probably one reason that whale sharks have been in existence for so long. They have been noted to live since 60 million years ago.
Whale sharks were identified as a specie from the Rhincodontidae family in early 1800s. The first sighting was in South Africa in 1828. A year after, a detailed description of the specie was released. The name was given as derived from its physiology. A whale shark is a shark that has an appearance similar to a whale. It is, like whales, a filter feeding fish. But it is, by virtue, a shark. Scientists consider it as one due to its leathery skin that is scaleless and its shark-y skeleton. The only thing that keeps it as close to the whale family is the fact that it is huge. It must be understood that whales are mammals. They are warm-blooded animals that gives birth to their young through their mammary glands.
What’s in the Name?
In most of Latin America, including Mexico, whale sharks are more popularly known as dominos for the skin patterns it has. Some other countries have given the whale shark their own unique tags. In the Philippines, it is ‘Butanding’; in Vietnam, it is ‘Ca Ong’; in Kenya, it is ‘Papa Shillingi’; in Madagascar, it is ‘Marokintana’; and in Indonesia, it is ‘geger Lintang’.