16 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

Diving, Galapagos Islands Animals, Galapagos Marine Life

whale-shark-galapagos-diving-360x240Many divers come to the Galapagos hoping to see the whale shark.

And no wonder, it’s huge and docile.

Who would not want to swim with a gigantic harmless fish? It would be amazing! And while it is on the list of Galapagos animals that you can see while diving, it isn’t a common sighting.

Here is a list of some of the things that make the whale shark so unique and interesting.

16 Interesting Facts About The Whale Shark

The whale shark …

  1. is the worlds largest fish, growing to over 12.65 meters (40 ft)
  2. weighs over 30 metric tons (66,000 lb)
  3. eats mostly plankton
  4. is a filter-feeder, sucking water in through it’s mouth then pushing it out through the gills. Whatever food (anything exceeding 2-3 mm) is left, gets swallowed
  5. lives to over 70 years
  6. reaches sexual maturity at 30
  7. is found in tropical and warm oceans
  8. has pale yellow or white stripes and dots in a checker pattern all over it’s grey back
  9. is docile and at times playful with divers
  10. likes to live alone, groups have very rarely been seen
  11. lives in open water
  12. usually swims and feeds near the top of the water
  13. has thick skin, up to 4 inches (10 cm) thick
  14. swims slowly at about 3 mph (5 kph)
  15. has a really big mouth, up to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) wide with 10 filter pads and around 350 rows of tiny teeth
  16. gives birth to live young

Diving With a Whale Shark

Don’t Get Too Close

While the whale shark is docile, it can be slightly dangerous, so it’s wise to keep a safe distance.

There have been reports of people almost being sucked into it’s huge mouth, by mistake of course. And of people getting hit because of swimming to close to it’s powerful tail. The whale shark is so large that encounters like these could lead to serious injury.

Plan your Galapagos dive adventure – and who knows? Maybe you’ll get to swim with a whale shark!

Have you ever swam with a whale shark? Please tell us about it by commenting on this post.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Dena Haines! I'm an traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

6 comments… add one
  • Katie Oct 14, 2014, 5:17 pm

    My name is Katie and I am only thirteen years old and have been snorkeling with whale sharks in La Paz, Mexico. It was probably the greatest experience of my entire life. The sharks did not seem dangerous at all and acted as if we weren’t even there. I never felt scared or threatened by the shark and had a lot of fun. Best day of my life! Totally recommended to ALL! 😀

    • Rachael Jan 21, 2015, 1:29 pm

      Thats on my bucket list!Whale sharks are beautiful gentle giants!
      I would love to swim with them! 🙂

  • Melanie kurtic May 20, 2015, 6:22 am

    wow this is good info for my test on whale sharks…

  • Saint Xmas Aug 19, 2015, 6:39 am

    Is it true they breed and seek protection around Christmas island reefs and circling under THE delta drop deep ocean until they are fully developed than we see them around the world today? iS IT TRUE ITS THEIR BREEDING ZONE?

  • duhbrain Nov 15, 2016, 8:30 pm

    I have sean turtles but not whale sharks

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