The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea reaching lengths of up to 12 m (40 ft), that's about the size of a bus. You usually feel their presence before you see them, it's a strange feeling to look up and see a 12m fish swimming above you.
Whale sharks have huge mouths, in fact you could fit a Volkswagen beetle in their mouth - gulp! Fortunately their throats are very small and whale sharks feed on plankton and are of no threat to humans. Diving or snorkeling with whale sharks is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I would encourage everybody who has the opportunity to do so. Holbox, Mexico is famous for its opportunity to swim with whale sharks. If you would like to dive with whale sharks, the Galapagos is a good choice during "whale shark season". We saw four in two days!
Whale sharks also have their own sort of finger prints - the spots on their body. Each whale shark has its own unique marking, just like we each have our own unique finger prints. In fact if you can ever are fortunate enough to be up close to a whale shark, you are encouraged to snap a photo and send it to the Whale Shark Project where the data is used in migration studies to gain a better understanding of whale sharks. More Info on whale sharks: Whale Shark Facts
Why Whale Sharks Need Our Help
Whale sharks are hunted for their fins which are used in shark find soup, which is very popular in Asia, especially Hong Kong. Over 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year for their fins.
The photo above is of a whale shark we saw in the Galapagos. The tail should be straight but is damaged - likely because of an accidental run in with a boat motor. Whale sharks are considered to be a threatened species but it is widely agreed that more information is needed before their status can be confirmed.
Whale Shark Conservation
- Never eat shark fin soup! 100 million sharks a year are dying needlessly for a bowl of soup! Banning the practice of shark finning is the most critical step in whale shark conservation!
- Volunteer with whale sharks in Mozambique
- Swim with whale sharks or dive with whale sharks which puts your tourism $$$ towards saving whale sharks by showing they are worth more alive than dead (Holbox, Mexico is a whale shark haven during the summer months)
- Take a photo of a whale shark with its spots visible and submit it to the Whale Shark Project to be used to study whale sharks migration patterns and aid in whale shark research
- Sign a petition to stop shark finning in the EU
- Become an online volunteer researching sharks and rays for the Shark Trust (I've learned a ton about sharks and rays from doing this)
- Sign up for the free Shark Alliance Newsletter
- Become a fan of the Shark Alliance on Facebook
- Become a member of ECOCEAN Whale Shark Research and Conservation on Facebook
- Adopt a Whale Shark
- Join the Shark Trust and receive Shark Focus magazine as part of your membership
- Shop at the Shark Shop (all the proceeds go to the Shark Trust which conducts whale shark research)
- Send a Shark e-card to help spread the word about whale shark conservation
- Always follow the Code of Conduct when diving with whale sharks
For information on Hammerhead sharks, Leatherback turtles, Coral reefs