There are plenty of large animals in the world. African elephants, brown bears, giraffes, and even ostriches make the top ten on the list. As you can probably imagine, the Blue Whale is the biggest creature of all time, weighing in at over 200 tons (181 metric tons) and growing as long as 100 feet (30 meters) long. But shark lovers can be proud as the Whale Shark also graces the big list of top ten, coming in at an impressive 44,8501lbs, or 22000kgs.
The Whale Shark is not a whale, but most definitely a shark. Of all the sharks of the world, this is one gentle giant who has a few things in common with the whale besides size; they are both filter-feeders, they both adapt to their environments, and they can both live up to 100 years-old. But from there the similarities end and they each portray their own unique traits.
The Big, The Bigger, The Biggest
Today, the Whale Shark shares the sea with many other sharks of the world who can hold their own in a contest of largeness. Though some are indigenous to certain regions, others can be found all over. Some might enjoy the shallows and some prefer the depths of the ocean. All of them are impressive, though, and they know how to represent.
5) The Tiger Shark. Not the sweetest of sharks, the Tiger Shark can be a bit on the aggressive side. Unlike most other sharks of the world, this is one shark that does not discriminate when it comes to food; if it’s floating (or swimming) by, it’s fair game. Unfortunately, this means garbage, waste, and any creature unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; including us! The Tiger Shark is known by the stripes that grace its body when young, but fade as they age. They can weight up to 2,000lbs (907kg) and are often 25 feet (7.62 meters) long and found in just about every sea.
4) The Pacific Sleeper Shark. Though she weighs in at up to 800lbs (362kg) and measures 25 feet (7.62 meters) in length, she can be rather tough to find. The Sleeper Shark lives in polar waters all year around and likes to stay deep below the surface of the ocean; 6,500 feet (1981 meters) below, to be exact. She feeds on the bottom of the sea and enjoys giant colossal squids, sea lions, and octopi. Lucky for us, humans are not on her list of tasty fare.
3) The Greenland Shark. Thankfully, this is one shark that is not very aggressive. When you weigh 2,000lbs (900kg) and can grow as long as 21 feet (6.5 meters), you sure do have what it takes to back yourself up. Scientists have yet to get a direct measurement on these great sharks, but observation says a lot. Even though they are not the biggest shark in the sea, they might be one of the longest living vertebrate; the oldest one had 200 candles on his cake!
2) The Great White. If you’ve ever seen images of sharks, we’re sure that the Great White was probably one of them. The movie “Jaws” was based on a Great White Shark so his picture has been everywhere. Great White Sharks are indeed great in size; with an average length of 26 feet (7.92 meters) and a weight of 5,000lbs (2,267kg). This biggie tends to cruise the coastal areas all over the world, so beach patrol likes to keep an eye out for these white wonders.
1) The Basking Shark. This shark is actually the second largest shark in the ocean after the whale shark. You might be afraid of this 40 foot (12.19 meters), 19 ton (17 metric ton) wonder, but they are quite friendly to humans and have been known to enjoy our company. Like whales, they too are filter feeders and they enjoy basking in the sun near the surface of the ocean to feed on plankton. In colder months, they stay buried in the depths of the sea.
Those Who Are No Longer With Us
While these large sharks still swim in the oceans all over the world, scientists have plenty of fossil evidence that show several other large sharks that once ruled the sea, but are no longer around.
- The Helicorpion was a shark whose teeth were arranged in an order that represented a circular saw, which must have been scary enough to see. But with an estimated length up to 25 feet (7.62 meters), this was one ocean dweller we would have loved to observe in action.
- Cretoxyrhina had teeth that were so sharp they could cut through skin, bone, and shell as though they were butter. This would have been terrifying enough, but add to that the fact that they were 22 feet (7 meters) long and you’ll find one of the most intimidating sharks to inhabit the waters.
- Megalodon was the largest shark to ever cruise the deep blue sea. Feasting on large sea creatures such as whales, which were plentiful during his time on earth, megalodon was estimated to measure 65 feet (20 meters). That sure does make the whale shark look tiny in comparison!
So just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, well, it still is! Even though some sharks are aggressive towards us, it’s only a handful that you have to keep an eye on. Shark love is all about respect and remember, man harms more sharks each year than sharks harm man. No matter how big they are, sadly, man somehow finds a way to be bigger.