by Beth Carter
- Whale sharks are the largest fish in the oceans.
- The average adult whale shark is 9 meters long, or 27 feet long!
- The largest whale shark ever caught was 12.6 meters long, or 41.5 feet long!
- Whale sharks are NOT whales, which are mammals. The largest whale is the blue whale.
- Whale sharks are pelagic. This means they live in the open sea. Most sharks are bethnic, or bottom dwellers.
- Most whale sharks are found in warm, tropical waters.
- Whale sharks are filter feeders. They eat tiny plants and animals.
- They eat more than 2.6 tons of food per day!
- Whale sharks have 300 rows of tiny teeth.
- They eat tiny plankton, krill, small squid, and algae.
- Whale sharks are not dangerous to humans. They can be playful near divers.
- Whale sharks are ovoviviparous. This means that the female has eggs inside her body, and then the eggs hatch inside her body.
- When the baby sharks are 40-60 cm long, they swim out of her body and so are born alive.
- Whale sharks are considered a “threatened” or “vulnerable” species.
- There is still much to learn about whale sharks.
- Whale sharks may become endangered if limits are not placed on fishing and collecting them.
- How could scientists find out more about whale sharks?
- Why is it important to keep whale sharks from becoming endangered or extinct?
- What role do whale sharks play in the food chain of the ocean?
- What animal is the whale shark’s primary predator?
- Would you be likely to find whale sharks off the southern coast of Africa? Why or why not?
- Why is it difficult to keep whale sharks in captivity?
- If an average whale shark is 27 feet long, how long is that in terms of your classroom? Can you measure 27 feet in your school’s hallway or parking lot to show a whale shark’s length? How about the longest whale shark’s length?
(After you think a while, ask an adult or older friend to read the Whale Shark FAQ with you. Look at the pictures and other materials.)
About the author:
Beth Carter is a K-1 teacher at the Cape Fear Center for Inquiry in Wilmington, NC.
Would you like to comment on this article?
View printer-friendly version