Whale shark introduction

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) from the Rhincodontidae family and the subclass Elasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes is the largest living fish in the world, the largest ever seen and recorded had a length of 41.5 ft (12.65 mts) and a weight of 47,000 pounds (21.5 t). It inhabits tropical and subtropical waters and it is believed that this species have survived for over 60 million years.

The first identified whale shark had a length of 4.6 mts and was harpooned and captured off the coast of Table Bay in South Africa in 1828 and it’s holotype can be found today in the Natural History Museum of Paris, in France. One year later in 1829, Andrew Smith, a Britain’s army physician stationed in Cape town did the first scientific quote publishing a detailed description of the species.

Because of its physiology, been a shark but it’s size is comparable of that of a whale, it was named whale shark. In Vietnam, whale sharks are venerated as a deity and they’re called “Ca Ong” which literally means “Mr Fish”. Whale sharks are also called “Domino fish” because of its unique skin with white spots which are like our fingerprints, each whale shark has a unique design.

There is not a lot of accurate information on the biology and life history of the whale sharks because of their migratory behavior which until today is not very clear plus they spent most of their lives in open ocean, far away from the coast so it becomes very expensive to be constantly monitoring them.

Another obstacle for its study and research is that whale sharks do not have a swimming bladder, this means that when they die their bodies do not float, they sink, this makes it very difficult to find bodies  for research.

Whale sharks inhabits all tropical seas in the world, their migration patterns are always in search of food looking for tropical and sub-tropical waters filled with plankton.

Keywords: Whale sharks, whale shark research, migratory behavior, migration patterns, swimming bladder, tropical seas.

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