They have broad, flat heads with short snouts and their backs have an interesting white, yellow, and grey checkerboard pattern. It is unknown how long whale sharks can live; however, scientistsbelieve they can live approximately 60-100 years.
Where does the whale shark live? Whale sharks are found in all tropical and warm-temperate seas around the world, preferring water temperatures of 20-25°C. In spite of their size, whale sharks eat only very small fish, and floating plants known as plankton.
They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia. The coral spawning of the area’s Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton.
In order to eat, whale sharkshave to take in a great deal of water along with their food. As they swish the sea water through their gills, the food is filtered out by rows of strainer like gill rakers in their throats.
Is it dangerous to swim with whale sharks? Yes, despite their enormous mouths and thousands of teeth, whale sharks pose no risk to humans. With a diet limited to tiny micro-organisms, you’re definitely not on the menu. Plus, with an average swim speed of 3 mph and already accustomed to swimming alongside humans, these gentle giants are very docile creatures.
Content for this question contributed by Kelly Risser, resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA