Whale Sharks

Josie Dichoso Period 9 May 16, 2016

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Habitat

Whale sharks live in many different tropical oceans and seas. This species prefers warm water, with surface temperature between 21° to 30° Celsius , but can tolerate water temperatures experienced on deep dives (over 1,000 meters) as low as 3° Celsius. (Wildscreen Arkive) Their environment is usually very peaceful and they swim at a depth of around 425 ft. Whale sharks also usually do not like to travel in groups; they prefer to be alone. Groups of whale sharks are very rare and they have hardly been seen.

Movement

Whale sharks are slow swimmers. It's average speed is 5 km/hr. Whale sharks have two pairs each, of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. It uses both it's fins and body to propel itself through the water.They swim by moving their entire bodies from side to side (not just their tails, like some other sharks do). (Enchanted Learning)

Body Covering

Whale sharks are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone, but their backbone is not really made out of bone; it is made of cartilage. There are three prominent ridges running along each side of the shark's body. (Enchanted Learning) Whale sharks do not shed or molt. Their skin can be up to 10 centimeters thick. A whale shark's body is covered with smooth gray skin with light spots and stripes. The pattern is unique to each individual whale shark; their underside is white.(Dawes, pg.38)

Diet

Whale Sharks eat krill, plankton, and small fish, so they are carnivores. They also have a very interesting way of how they get and eat their food. A whale shark eats on the run. As it cruises through the ocean, water flows continuously into its mouth. Filter pads in its throat strain out the zooplankton, and the filtered water is expelled through the shark's gills. The trapped food gathers in a big ball at the back of the animal's throat before being swallowed. (Stephen Fraser). As the whale shark grows and develops, their diet doesn't really change. They still eat the tiny fish, krill, and zooplankton.

Reproduction

Whale sharks reproduce sexually. Not much is known about the mating practices of whale sharks. Female whale sharks incubate their eggs inside them rather than outside. This means that whale sharks give birth to live young. Inside the female whale shark, are hundreds of eggs but only a few actually turn into baby whale sharks. The female whale shark gives birth to an average litter of 12 whale shark pups, that are around 60 cm long.

(a-z animals)

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Adaptations

Whale sharks are migratory creatures that tend to be nomadic. Researchers believe that the whale shark migrates at various times of the year, but there isn't any solid evidence to back this up yet. While it tends to be a solo swimmer, it has been spotted schooling with its brothers and sisters when food is abundant.(How Stuff Works)

Whale sharks are extremely docile creatures. They are not known for attacking humans. In fact, many people who dive or snorkel enjoy swimming alongside whale sharks.

Whale sharks' predators include other sharks, killer whales and humans.

Facts/Other Info

  • Whale sharks can weigh up to about 20 tons!
  • Whale sharks can live up to 100-150 years old
  • Whale sharks are not whales! They are actually sharks and that look like and have the size of a whale.
  • Their size can be around 39-59 ft
  • They are cold-blooded animals
  • The whale shark's scientific name: Rhincodon typus
  • Whale sharks usually don't travel in groups, but a whale shark group is called a school
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Works Cited


  • "Whale Shark." nature.org. Nature Conservancy, 2016. n.d. Web. 9 May 2016.

http://www.nature.org/newsfeatures/specialfeatures/animals/fish/whale-shark.xml


  • Fraser, Stephen. "Gentle Giants." Current Science 25 Nov. 2011: n. pag. SIRS

Discoverer. Web. 7 May 2016. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/

discoweb/disco/do/article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3BARTICLE%3BART%3B0000320170>


  • "Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)." Encyclopedia of Endangered Species. Vol. 2.

Farmington Hills MI: Gale, Research in Context, 2009. N. pag. GALE

Research. Web. 6 May 2016. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/

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Position=1&searchResultsType=MultiTab&inPS=true&userGroupName=auro18260&docId=GAL E%7CCV2644720462&contentSet=GALE%7CCV2644720462>.


  • "Whale Shark." animals.nationalgeographic.com. National Geographic Partners, 1996.

n.d. Web. 6 May 2016. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/

fish/whale-shark/>.



  • "Whale Sharks." sheppardsoftware.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2016.

<http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/animals/fish/

shark_whaleshark.htm>.


  • Dawes, John. Fish: Sharks. London: Brown Reference Group, 1 December 2008. n.d.Print. Vol. 32 of World of Animals. 49 vols. World Of Animals.


whale-shark.htm>.]