The Whale Shark
The Skin and More
The Whale Shark's Skin
The whale shark's skin is counter-shaded which means it is pale on the bottom of the whale shark and dark on the top. This allows them to blend in with the reflection of the sky to any creatures looking up at them or to blend in, in the deep depths of the ocean. The whale shark's dark sides and back are a dark grey-brown color which appear blue when they are underwater. They are also covered in small white to pale yellow dots and think vertical striped. The design and or pattern of these dots and stripes can be used to identify which whale is which because no two designs/patterns are the same.
"Intriguing Whale Shark Facts and Legends." Whale Shark Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.
A whale shark brought out of the water and onto the land.
A whale shark at an aquarium and is quite large in stature in comparison to the people taking pictures.
A whale shark under water and this causes its skin to look more blue in this picture than grey-brown.
Whale Shark's Skeleton
Bones & Teeth
The whale shark also have over three hundred teeth, but they do not need their teeth in order to eat their planktonic prey. This has caused their teeth, over the year, to shrink down to just three millimeters in size. Their genus name is 'Rhincodon' which is Latin and translates to 'rasp-tooth'. That is essentially saying that the teeth are so small that are considered to be a filer or a grater.
Potenski, Matthew. "Whale Shark Expedition: The World's Largest Fish." Whale Shark Expedition: The World's Largest Fish. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.
"Facts About Whale Sharks." About.com Marine Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014
This is the skeleton the whale shark.
Even from up close it is still very hard to see the whale shark's teeth because they are so small.
This is a super up close look at what a whale shark's teeth really look like.
Whale Shark's Muscles
Way back when, all sharks had the ability to use buccal pumping to survive underwater. Buccal pumping is when the muscles pull the water into the mouth and over the gills. However, when sharks became more active whale sharks lost the ability to use buccal pumping to survive underwater and now just use ram ventilation. Ram ventilation is when the shark takes the water in while swimming and lets it flow freely through the gill slits. This adaption has the caused the whale shark to use less muscles while breathing.
"ANATOMY." Sharkproject. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Edmonds, Molly. "Will a Shark Drown If It Stops Moving?" HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com, 09 June 2008. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Whale Shark's Nervous System
A whale shark has an incredibly sensitive sense of smell and because of that they are able to pick up chemicals in the water, which also allow it to find its prey. There are nasal grooves above the mouth of a whale shark that allows a continuous stream of water to flow in so the whale shark can smell the chemicals. Whale sharks have all this because they have a lateral nervous system. They have rows on both sides of the shark that communicate with the lateral nervous system. These openings are called Ampullae of Lorenzini. Through those the whale shark is able function and thrive as it does to this day!
Prevost, John F. "Whale Sharks." ABDO & Daughters, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014
Taylor, Geoff. "Whalesharks." Whalesharks. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
"Shark Anatomy - Enchanted Learning Software." Shark Anatomy - Enchanted Learning Software. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
"Gills - Shark Anatomy - EnchantedLearning.com." Gills - Shark Anatomy - EnchantedLearning.com. Enchanted Learning, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014
Digestive System & Excretory System
After the food is digested waste products are passed to the cloaca and vent. The cloaca is a small on the underside of their body where the waste will come out of the whale shark.
The picture below is of a man in the 'olden times' sitting in part of a whale shark's mouth.
"Feeding and Digestion - Physical Characteristics of Sharks." Feeding and Digestion. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.
When the whale sharks mate the sperm is washing into the female's cloaca by the water. It either fertilizes the eggs at once or can be stored for a while.
Females then go to secluded places to give birth because they can only defend themselves within limits while pregnant. However, once she's given birth the baby whale shark will have to fend for its self because whale sharks do not take care of their young.
"ANATOMY." Sharkproject. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.