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whale sharks

By melia

Rhincodon typus

deep diving

Whale sharks skin is 15 cm thick. It helps it keep warm when it dives down to the bottom of the ocean.  Whale sharks dive as far as 2000 meters deep! When they are down they are feeding, but after a while they get cold. Then they need to come up to the surface to get warm.  That is when we saw them. 

skin

Whale shark spots are unique. Every shark has its own spots and thats how we identify them.  Like a finger print.                 

The whale shark's skin has lots of little tiny teeth on it which actually helps it go faster. It creates turbulence which makes the water 5.9% easier to move through and the whale shark 6.6% faster than if it had smooth skin.     

This is Dhonbe.

We swam with him!

This is Dhonbe (WS175). Each shark gets a name when researchers dicover them. The researchers identify them using their spots. 369 individuals have been identified visiting South Ari Atoll, Maldives.  You can identify a whale shark using this app.

Whale sharks are filter feeders. They feed on tiny microscopic creatures called plankton. The whale shark opens its mouth and collects a mouthful of water. Then the plankton gets caught on its filter pads and the whale shark flushes the water out of its gills.  Now the whale shark coughs up the plankton and swallows it.  YUM!            

Dinner!
mating

82% of the whale sharks in South Ari Atoll are males who are not yet ready to mate.  But where did all the females go? 

It was found that in the Galapagos pregnent females were found there on a 10 to 1 female to male ratio.  But in St Helena there is an even female/male population.  This makes scientists think that is where they mate.  Nobody has ever recorded it but some say they have seen it.  

In July 1996 some local fishermen caught a pregnent whale shark and let the scientists do some research. They found that some of the sharks were ready to be born and others were still embryonic. They think this means female whale sharks can store sperm and fertilise many eggs over a long period of time.      

1st dorsal fin

Pectoral fins

2nd dorsal fin

tail fin

Pelvic fins 

anal fins

Identification

Here's an Octonauts episode about whale sharks.

I got my information from the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme who gave us a presentation full of fun facts.  I also looked on Wikipedia and WWF who both have some really great information.

Sources

Whale sharks eat as many calories as 115 magnums a day!

fun facts !

A whale shark's mouth is almost 6 feet across. The maximum recorded length of a whale shark is 42 feet (about 12m) and the maximum recorded weight is 34 tons!  

No one really knows, but scientists estimate that whale sharks live to around 70 years old,