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Whale Shark

Photo copyright Tim Nicholson.
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

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The Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the sea and feeds on microscopic plankton. As its teeth are redundant they are minute. 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.

Whale sharks are found in all tropical and warm seas except the Mediterranean.

Further Reading
The Whale Shark Project: Submit images of your whale shark sightings.
IUCN Red List
The Underwater Photographer: Digital and Traditional Techniques by Martin Edge, Paperback, 536 pages (2009)

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