Whale shark anatomy

The anatomy and appearance of the whale shark is very unique, while most of their body is gray their belly is white, their skin is marked as a checkerboard of yellow-white spots. Each whale shark has a unique distribution of this spots, because of this they are used to identify each animal to have a population count. Their skin is also very wide, it can be up to 10 cms thick.

Whale sharks fed with plancton, therefore their mouth can be up to 1.5 meters wide with 300 to 350 rows of very tiny teeth. Their two small eyes are located at the front of their wide head. The spiracles, which are used by the whale shark to pump water through the gills while it’s at rest, are located behind their eyes.

In terms of speed, the whale shark is not the most efficient fish when swimming, this because it uses its entire body to do it. The average speed of the whale shark is only 5 kms per hour.

The average size of the whale shark is from 6 to 10 meters making it the largest fish in the world. The largest whale shark ever recorded was caught near the island of Baba in Pakistan in 1947, it’s length was 12.65 meters and its weight was 21.5 tons. People all over the world testify that they have seen larger whale sharks, some of them with lengths of between 15 and 21 meters but there is no scientific data to support this.

Adult whale sharks have a pair of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. Young whale sharks have tails with a larger upper fin than the lower one while the adult’s tail transforms into semi-lunate shape.

Keywords: Whale sharks, whale shark anatomy, plancton, swimming, whale shark fins