Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus (Smith 1828)
A Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus, at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: FGBNMS / Eckert / NOAA. License: Public Domain
Video of a Whale Shark surrounded by Cobia at Flat Rock, North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, March 2017.
Video of a Whaleshark at Batu Katoka, Indonesia.
Video of a shoal of baitfish using a whale shark to protect them from voracious Yellowfin Tuna. Make sure you watch right to the end of the 3.5 minutes.
Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus (Smith 1828)
|Found worldwide in tropical and subtropical oceans.|
Planktivores - feeding on zooplankton, including the eggs and larvae of fishes and invertebrates. Whale sharks are migratory, and often form seasonal aggregations close to shore when food is abundant.
|Little is known of Whale Shark reproductive biology. Whale sharks are ovoviviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young that have hatched from their egg cases within the uterus of the female (Joung et al. 1996). One female whale shark carried more than 300 embryos in varying stages of development within her uterus. The embryos ranged from 42 cm total length (TL) embryos still in egg cases, to hatched embryos free-living in the uterus, measuring 58-64 cm TL. Very few small whale sharks have ever been seen, and the smallest to date is a pup, measuring 46 cm TL, caught on hook and line in 2009 near Donsol in the Philippines (Aca & Schmidt 2011).|
Whale sharks are negatively buoyant meaning they naturally sink. When feeding, they glide gently down to feed on krill in deep water, thereby not expending much energy swimming. Meekan et al (2015) estimated that this behaviour, followed by a steep return to warmer surface waters, allows whale sharks to conserve up to 30% of the energy they would use if just swimming horizontally.
|Rhincodon is from the Greek rhinos meaning "rasp", and odon meaning "tooth" ... as described by Smith, 1829: “Teeth small, slightly curved, placed in longitudinal rows, and altogether so disposed towards the anterior edges of jaws as to exhibit the resemblance of a rasp or file lying across each …” (The Etyfish Project)|
Bray, D.J. 2017
Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus (Smith 1828)
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