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The-Whale-Shark-Features-Discovery :: Version1

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The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the world's largest fish; it has a history of 60 million years in which it has traveled the oceans of this world. In addition, the shark is one of a kind simply because not only is it the only present species of its genus yet somehow also of its family.

However, we definitely know little about this species which is reported vulnerable on the IUCN list. The first whale shark was identified having a measure of 4.6 meters, speared and taken on the shores of Table Bay, South Africa in 1828. The said whale shark was traded for 6 pounds. The holotype of this whale shark was showcased at the Museum of the Natural History in Paris. One year following to this fantastic discovery the very first scientific paper about this species was written, and in 1849 the first complete description of the whale shark was written and published. Because of the physiology of the fish, it was assigned the name whale shark; a shark with the look and size more general of a whale.

The whale shark is a solitary fish which occasionally forms groups to feed in areas with large food concentrations. Males can be found in different places while females prefer to stay in specific areas. Its belly is white and his back is a darker gray than other sharks and has a lot of dots and horizontal and vertical white or yellow lines. These dots represent a unique pattern in each specimen, which is why they are used for identification purposes and to census the population. There are quite a few theories with regards to the purpose of these spots: They can be utilized for camouflage, as from below they can immediately be confused with the light from the sky and from above they can be confused with the reflection of exterior light. Another probability is that these particular marks are a social feature for spotting other sharks or that the spot patterns are an adaptation to provide protection to the shark from radiation, which is necessary for species that remain a significant part of their time on the water surface. An appealing side note on the coloring of the whale shark's skin is that in 2007 Antonio Moreano took pictures of a distinctive albino specimen in the northern zone of the Galapagos Islands.

These whale sharks have a lengthened and robust body that holds several longitudinal ridges on the head and back making them hydrodynamic. The skin of a whale shark can get as thick as 10 cm. Its head is broad and flattened; its eyes are small and are located on the sides. Behind the eyes are the spiracles; respiratory openings that allow contact between the air or water and the internal respiratory system. The placement of its eyes helps make vision of far less importance as compared to smell. The whale sharks mouth can be as wide as 1.5 meters. Whale sharks have about 3000 teeth in each jaw, yet these are tiny (a lot less than 6mm in length) and usually are not employed for feeding. It has five pairs of large gill slits which clefts are enormous. It has a pair of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. Its tail can measure more than 2.5 meters from side to side. The adult's tail has a half moon shape and provides the power; the top part of the tail of young species is larger compared to the bottom part. They are utilizing their entire body to be able to swim, a particular thing that is not very usual in fish and that make it a less proficient swimmer. The shark won't reach a greater speed than 5 km/h; a reasonably slow speed for a fish of such gigantic size. It is assumed that they can get bigger 20 m in length and they really do not attain sexual maturity until eventually they measure over nine meters (at 30 years more or less). They can weigh up to thirty four tons (34000 kg). Whale sharks are believed to live an average of 60 years, maybe more. Although first thought to be viviparous, and then thought to be oviparous, in 1996 it was discovered that they are ovoviviparous (the eggs remain inside the female until hatching), when a female with 300 eggs was found; the largest number of eggs registered in any species of shark. Newborn whale sharks normally reach between 40 and 60 centimeters in length, despite the fact that little is noted about them.

Eager to see a whale shark yourself? Visit the whale shark tours page.

You may also be interested taking a look at the other adventure excursions we have.

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