What color is a whale shark

Wanted poster whale shark
sizeup to 12.65 m
speedup to 5 km / h
Weight12-20 tons
lifespan70-100 years
nutritionPlankton; also mackerel and small tuna
EnemiesOrcas (only young animals endangered)
habitattropical and subtropical waters
orderNurse sharks
familyWhale sharks
Scientific SurnameRhincodon typus
featureslargest and heaviest fish in the world

The whale shark is a peaceful shark with a grayish-blue spotted back, a light belly, and a wide, blunt muzzle. It has two dorsal fins and two pectoral fins.

Where does the whale shark live?

The whale shark lives solitary in tropical or subtropical regions on the open sea. Usually it stays near the surface of the water, but sometimes dives a few hundred meters.

Deceptive name

Whale or shark? Despite its name, the whale shark is a fish. In addition, it is the largest fish in the world, over 12 m in length.

Thick skin

The whale shark has the thickest skin in the fish kingdom, it is 10-15 cm thick.

Infrequent food intake

The whale shark has a unique way of feeding. It usually stands upright with its head to the surface of the water and opens its huge, up to 1.5 m wide mouth.

Then he swallows huge amounts of water in which his prey swims at the same time. They are tiny creatures called plankton.

Now he presses the water out through his gills. These are covered with countless small teeth (approx. 300-350 rows with a total of 3,600 teeth) and hold the plankton tight. There are only two other species that eat this way, the basking mouth shark and the basking shark.


The whale shark is sexually mature at 10-30 years. Researchers believe that the female can determine the date of birth and only gives birth to boys if she thinks they have a high chance of survival.

The female is able to give birth to up to 300 live cubs. The small whale sharks develop at great depths to be safe from their natural predators, the orcas.

Threatend species

The whale shark is on the Red List of Threatened Species as "Endangered". There is now a fishing ban.

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Is the whale shark dangerous?

Although the whale shark is a shark, it is not dangerous. He is very gentle and does not pose a threat to humans. Most of the time you only come across him as a diver in the open sea, because his size does not allow him to go near the beach.

However, due to its size, it could accidentally suck in a diver or "sweep it away" with its tail fin without realizing it. In fact, out of around 500 species of shark, only a handful are dangerous.


Most sharks swim by moving their caudal fin back and forth. The whale shark doesn't. He tilts his entire body alternately from left to right and from right to left. It doesn't get really fast.

He swims quite comfortably through the sea at a maximum of 5 km / h. But since it does not hunt predators and does not have to fear attacks from other predators, that is completely sufficient.