Whale Sharks
By Seishi Kimura

Rhincodon typus

A very large shark; maximum size at least 12 m, probably more than 14 m. Body cylindrical or somewhat depressed, with prominent ridges on sides, lowest ridge continuing lateral keel on caudal peduncle. Head very wide and flattened; nostrils with short anterior flaps and minute barbels; nasoral grooves present; no circumnarial grooves. Mouth exceptionally large, nearly subterminal; teeth very small and numerous. Eyes without nictitating eyelids. Spiracles much smaller than eyes. Five extremely large gill slits, posterior 3 over the pectoral-fin base. Two dorsal fins without spines; the first much larger than the second; first dorsal-fin origin anterior to pelvic-fin origin; second dorsal-fin origin above anal-fin origin; caudal fin asymmetrical, crescent, without subterminal notch. Vertebrae 174. Color: head and body dark bluish or greenish gray dorsally, with white or yellow spots and vertical stripes.

Similar families occurring in the area. None.

Remarks. Circumglobal in the tropic and temperate areas of Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Occurring at or near surface. Feeds on small pelagic (planktonic) crustaceans, schooling fishes, and squids. Ovoviviparaous. One species, Rhincodon typus.