When we talk about fish we often think of the ones that are in an aquarium or those that we see on our plates. If ever you wonder about which fish is the biggest one alive today then the answer is the whale shark. This is the biggest fish species alive today with the largest confirmed specimen having a length of 12.65 meters. Its length is equivalent to 41.5 feet and weighs more than 21 tons or more than 47,000 pounds.
Discovery and Identification
Whale sharks were first encountered in April of 1828 when a specimen was harpooned in Table Bay, South Africa. That specimen was about 4.6 meters or the equivalent of 15.1 feet. Of course, when they tried to classify the animal they named it ‘whale shark’ since it looked like a shark but was as huge as a whale.
The biggest fish in the world goes by different names in different countries. It is worshipped in the Vietnamese religion as Ca Ong, which translates to ‘Sir Fish’. It is called ‘domino’ in Latin America due to its array of spots. They are called Sapodilla Tom in Belize due to their habitat.
Whale sharks live mostly in warm temperate seas and tropics. This specie of fish is believed to live mostly in open seas that are not close to the sea bottom. Though it is interesting that some specimens have been seen near the shore. Some have even entered coral atolls and lagoons. They can sometimes be found at the mouth of estuaries and rivers. However, it is known that they can dive as deep as 700 meters.
The world’s biggest fish, not surprisingly, is migratory. They have various feeding areas in the world that they frequent during various times of the year. Some of the known seasonal feeding areas include the Ningalo Reef in Australia, Donsol and Pasacao in the Philippines, Isla Mujeres in Yucatan, and the Tanzanian Islands.
Whale Shark Diet
It is interesting that though these huge fish are classified as sharks they don’t particularly feed in the same manner as most sharks that are familiar to the common man. Like basking sharks and megamouth sharks, the biggest fish in the world are filter feeders. They mainly feed on plankton, macro-algae, red crab larvae, and small squid. However, it is observed that they can feed on small schools of fish that comes along its path.
Of course, you will find rows of teeth if you examine a whale shark’s mouth. However, its teeth have no known use when it comes to feeding. You’ll mostly find this shark’s teeth to be reduced in size since it usually just sucks a mouthful of water and expels the water out while trapping the food in its mouth.