Monday, July 30, 2007

Whale shark fact sheet

Rhincodon typus | Whale shark



The whale shark is the largest non-mammalian vertebrate in the world. Unlike other sharks that are often aggressive and violent predators, whale sharks are docile creatures. They move slowly, covering areas as large as 3,700 km and they can dive as deep as 1280 m. Whale sharks have a large mouth containing 10 filter pads that are used to filter plankton, squid and tiny fish that are rammed or engulfed into the mouth. Adults are able to eat more than 2.6 tons of food per day. Whale sharks are ovoviviparous, meaning that the eggs remain tin the body and the mother gives birth to live young. A single female may carry up to 300 embryos which develop at different times. Whale sharks are pelagic and inhabit all tropical and warm to temperate seas (generally below 30º latitude). Their appearance is regularly in the same places and seasons which likely correlates to events like plankton blooms. In the Azores whale sharks are sighted only occasionally when the water is particularly warm.


Length: 
• Average: 9.7 m 
• Maximum: 12.65 m
• Newborn: 40 - 63 cm


Weight: 21,500 kg

Global population: Unknown

Status: Vulnerable (population decreasing)

Diet: Plankton, squid and tiny fish

Longevity: 60 - 130 years

Breeding age: 30 years

Gestation: Unknown


In other languages
Portuguese: Tubarão baleia
Spanish: Tiburón ballena
French: Requin-baleine
Italian: Squalo balena
German: Walhai
Dutch: Walvishaai
Swedish: Valhaj
Norwegian: Hvalhai
Danish: Hvalhaj
Finnish: Valashai
Polish: Rekin wielorybi



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