February 13, 2011 / Nature / 0 comments
The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow moving filter feeding shark that is the largest living fish species. It can grow up to 18 m. in length and can weigh up to 21 tonnes (15 short tons). The whale shark is a filter feeder — one of only three known filter feeding shark species (along with the basking shark and the mega-mouth shark). It feeds on phytoplankton, macro-algae, plankton, krill and small nektonic life, such as small squid or vertebrates. This species, despite its enormous size, does not pose any significant danger to humans. It is a frequently cited example when educating the public about the popular misconceptions of all sharks as “man-eaters”. They are actually quite gentle and can be playful with divers.