The Whale Shark is the world’s largest living fish, growing up to 12 metres long. At times when water was flowing out from the reef lagoon, possibly transporting potential prey outside the reef, the tracked sharks swam in large circles adjacent to passes in the reef. In order to understand why having whale sharks on this planet is important, let’s explore the whale shark habitat. Able to birth around 300 young, Whale Sharks reach sexual maturity at 30 years and live to a total of around 70 to 100 years. These sharks also avoid colder seas, and are normally found in tropical or warm-temperate oceans. Each March and April, whale sharks are known to be aggregate on the continental shelf of the central western coast of Australia, particularly in the Ningaloo Reef area. The food then enters through filtering pads that cover the entrance of their throats. Vessel strikes and being caught accidentally by commercial fishing vessels has led the Whale Shark to be considered a vulnerable species. The Whale Shark is oviparous, meaning the female sharks produce eggs that are hatched inside of her. Whale sharks tend to enjoy temperate to warm waters. The fish is primarily pelagic, meaning that they live in the open sea, but not in the greater depths of the ocean. Whale Sharks are widely known as the “gentle giants” of the sea. The whale shark is only one of three known shark species that feeds in this way, with the others being the basking shark and the megamouth shark. Copyright 2000 - 2020 Travel Yucatan |  All Rights Reserved. Whale sharks are thought to migrate to Ningaloo Reef each year to take advantage of the high zooplankton (microscopic animals) concentrations associated with large-scale coral spawning events occurring during the March and April full moons. The reaction of the sharks to snorkelers varied between ignoring them to slowly diving. These large fish have five sets of gills and a set of dorsal fins that form a dual-lobbed caudal fin. The Whale Shark is oviparous, meaning the female sharks produce eggs that are hatched inside of her. The whale shark is ovoviparous, meaning the female produces eggs that hatch insider her. Whale sharks alternatively may undertake either fairly localized or large-scale transoceanic migrations, the movements governed by the timing and location of production pulses and possibly by breeding behavior. The whale shark is one of three large filter-feeding sharks; the others are the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) and the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). The Foundation is a registered Environmental Organisation in Australia and is eligible to receive tax deductible donations. The Whale Shark is listed as endangered (population trend decreasing) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Instead, these fish are filter feeders, swimming forward to swallow prey. However, more needs to be done if we want to make sure that this problem is gone once and for all. It appears that these movements, up and down through the water column, were associated with feeding. Copyright © 2020 Welcome To!. They can occasionally be found as deep as 6,000 ft., but for the most part remain towards the surface of the open ocean. Efforts have been made by various organizations in order to combat this problem. The whale sharks also made numerous dives throughout the observation period. While swimming along, whale sharks prefer shallower depths. Because of this, they are generally found in the waters along the Equator. It is often seen offshore but commonly comes close inshore, sometimes entering lagoons or coral atolls. Because of this, they are generally found in the waters along the Equator. Make a donation today to protect the endangered Whale Shark for future generations. Studies reveal that this shark prefers warm waters, with surface temperature around 21-30 degrees C, marked by high primary productivity (much plankton). Each one of them has their own unique pattern, just like each human having their own unique set of fingerprints. It has a vestigial spiracle behind the eye, which is an evolutionary remnant of its common ancestry with bottom-dwelling (benthic) carpet sharks. These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. These eggs are not all born at once, but are born in a steady stream over a certain period. Whale shark has a broad, flat head, relatively small eyes, five large gill slits, two dorsal fins, two long pectoral fins, two pelvic fins, one anal fin and a large sweeping tail. Like other sharks, the reproduction process takes a lot of time. A whale shark’s mouth is about 1.5 m wide. Humans are not on the menu. While they are meat-loving carnivores, whale sharks do not attack humans. Inside their roughly 1.5m-wide mouths, they have over 300 rows of teeth. There is evidence that suggests that whale shark pups are not all born at once. The whale shark forages for food at or near the surface of the ocean. ABN 82 090 616 443. When the young are fully developed, the female gives birth to around 300 live young. Always spotted but rarely seen, meet the largest fish in the ocean. Whale Sharks are covered in a pattern of spots that is unique to each shark, much like human fingerprints. With this in mind, whale shark habitat is usually found in the waters around South Africa, Central America, and South America. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation extends its deepest respect and recognition to all Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef as First Nations Peoples holding the hopes, dreams, traditions and cultures of the Reef. They are slow moving and can travel up to 7,000 km in its migratory range. Their skin has a pale yellow marking of stripes and dots on a dark gray background. In contrast to most sharks from the same order (Orectolobiformes), which are benthic (live on or near the bottom) species, the whale shark is a pelagic (open sea) species. Whale sharks can be found in any tropical or warm temperate ocean worldwide. Whale Sharks live in all warm and tropical seas, are migratory, and swim more than 1,000 metres below the surface. The whale shark is one of the most graceful and largest creatures around the world. A whale shark’s method of filter feeding deals with suctioning water into their mouths at high velocities while remaining stationary. These filtering pads are board mess pads full of millimeter-wide pores that act like a sieve, allowing water to pass through while capturing the desired food particles. Without these gentle creatures eating all of the plankton and microorganisms that they do, our aquatic food chain would be all out of whack. These eggs are not all born at once, but are born in a steady stream over a certain period. The whale shark’s habitat is affected by this procedure. Whale Sharks will often “cough” to clear particles from their filter pads. A study was done in this area to provide information on the short-term movements and behavior of this species of shark. Seasonal migrations have been postulated for various areas but more information is needed to confirm these patterns. Inside, they have rows of over 300 teeth, but they don’t use these teeth to eat because they’re filter feeders. Their movements might be related to local productivity and they are often associated with schools of pelagic fish that are probably feeding on the same prey organisms. A whale shark cruises at the surface accompanied by opportunistic remoras (Echeneis sp.). However, demand for their meat, fins, and oil pose a considerable threat to these fish and have made them vulnerable to extinction. Most whale sharks — 75 percent — are found in the Indian and Pacific oceans; 25 percent in the Atlantic, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Like great white sharks, the whale shark is ovoviviparous, meaning that the egg remains within the body and the females give birth to live young. The Foundation provides its donors with official receipts for Australian tax purposes. The whale shark is thought to be highly migratory but currently there is no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. This extinction risk is also attributed to bycatch (the accidental capture of non-target species in fishing gear) and human beings interaction. Scientists do not know whether sexual segregation, either locally or geographically, occurs.