Whale Shark

Photos copyright Tim Nicholson.
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) and diver

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The biggest fish in the sea feeds on microscopic plankton. A filter feeder, the Whale Shark's gills are specially modified to act like a sieve. It is one of only three sharks who filter feed, the other two being the Basking Shark and the aptly-named Megamouth.

A slow swimmer, the Whale Shark often collides with boats as it swims on the surface where there is most food. It is on the IUCN's Red List as a Vulnerable species. This is one level below endangered. Its life history is poorly understood but it is known to migrate large distances. Populations appear to have been depleted by harpoon fisheries in South East Asia. The rise of dive tourism though, is making the fish more valuable alive than dead.

Further Reading
The Underwater Photographer: Digital and Traditional Techniques by Martin Edge, Paperback, 536 pages (2009)

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