Facts about whale sharks
- Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea! The biggest one ever recorded was 12.65m. However there are stories of Whale Sharks reaching 18-20m!! The ones we get on HOLBOX can range from ___m to __m.
- Whale Sharks are a Shark and NOT a Whale. This is because they have gills and can breathe underwater.
- 00-00 Whale Sharks come to Holbox each year to feed. Whale Sharks are solitary creatures and travel the seas on their own, however they gather in the same place when there is lots of food in the water.
- Whale Sharks have 3000 teeth, but they are so small you can’t see them! Whale sharks are filter-feeders and like to eat plankton, squid, krill and small fish so they don’t really need teeth!
- Whale Sharks mouths’ can reach up to 1.5m wide yet their throats are the size of an orange! It’s not just that a whale shark doesn’t want to eat you, they can’t eat you, because you wouldn’t fit down their throat!
- They may be big, but they are relatively slow! They swim on average 5 km/3 miles per hour, making it easy for us to swim along side them.
- Their beautiful spots are to help them camouflage. The topside of a Whale Shark is covered in a mesmerizing array of spots! This is to help them camouflage when they want to be invisible!
- The lifespan of a Whale Shark is similar to a human. Whale Sharks can live up to 70-100 years and they reach sexual maturity around 30 years old, which is relatively late for a shark.
- Humans are the biggest threat to the Whale Shark. Juvenile Whale Sharks may be hunted by other sharks, Killers Whales or even Blue Marlin. When they grow up, their size protects them from most predators. Humans however continue to hunt them for their valuable fins, which is one of the reasons they are on the Red List of Endangered Species. Other reasons include getting caught in fishing nets, struck by propellers and consuming the plastic in the oceans today.