Is a Whale Shark a Whale Or a Shark?

The Whale shark is one of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. It’s a species that raises intriguing questions regarding its true identity; Are Whale sharks whales or sharks? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the mystery and uncover what makes this enigmatic creature so unique. We’ll explore how different elements of its anatomy place it in two distinct groups – whales and sharks – while looking at other situations where similar animals can be categorized within more than one species type. Let’s see if we can unravel the riddle behind if a Whale shark really is either a whale or a shark!

is the whale shark a shark

What is a Whale shark and what does it look like?

The Whale shark is the largest living species of fish, and can reach lengths of up to 65 feet! Its body is a unique blend of characteristics that are shared by both whales and sharks. Its body has the long, streamlined shape of a whale, with two small dorsal fins that resemble those of a shark. Its head is wide and flat, with a sharply-angled snout, while its eyes are small and set far apart on either side of its head. Its coloring is usually gray or brown, with white spots and stripes scattered along its body.

What is a Whale and what does it look like?

are whale sharks sharks

The Whale is a large mammal found in oceans all over the world. It has a long and streamlined body, with a distinctive dorsal fin on its back. Its coloring is usually gray or black, with lighter markings along its belly and sides. Its head is large, round, and tapered towards the end, while its mouth is wide and full of baleen plates. Its eyes are located on either side of its head and it has two blowholes at the top to help it breathe. It also has two flippers that assist with maneuvering in the water. The size of whales can range from a few feet long to over 59 feet long.

Is a Whale shark a whale or a shark?

Is a Whale Shark a Whale Or a Shark

As mentioned before, Whale sharks are the largest living species that can be found in our oceans today. This alone places them into their own distinct category, known as the ‘megafauna’ group – an exclusive class of marine life that includes giant squid and giant clams. With this said, it’s still unclear whether they should belong under the umbrella term ‘whale’ or ‘shark’. Despite its immense size, many characteristics place the Whale shark firmly within both groups.

For one thing, many features associated with whales can be seen in Whale sharks; including a large body and head, a small dorsal fin, and two pectoral fins. At the same time, Whale sharks share traits commonly found in members of the shark family; such as a flattened head and rounded snout, gill slits behind their heads, and five gill openings on each side.

To further add to this debate, many researchers suggest that Whale sharks are actually a species of baleen whales – which includes animals like blue whales and humpback whales – due to the presence of dermal denticles (tiny tooth-like scales) underneath their skin. On the other hand, others believe they should be classified under the order Lamniformes – which encompasses both mackerel sharks and megamouth sharks – because of their distinctive gill arrangement and swim pattern.

In other instances, there are species that can be recognized as belonging to two separate groups simultaneously. For example, the platypus is an animal that has been placed within both the mammal and reptile categories due to its unique combination of features – such as a duck bill-like mouth, webbed feet, and the ability to lay eggs. In this way, it could be argued that Whale sharks have a similarly ambiguous quality – one which means they belong to more than just one group.


Ultimately, whether a Whale shark is truly either a whale or a shark remains somewhat unresolved. While it certainly shares characteristics with both species types, many scientists believe it is best suited to its own category; this would ensure that its unique biology and behavior are given the recognition they deserve. As for now, Whale sharks remain one of nature’s great mysteries – a captivating creature that continues to challenge our ideas about what makes an animal truly special.

Hopefully, this blog post has helped to shed some light on the fascinating debate around if a Whale shark is really either a whale or a shark. It’s certainly an intriguing question, one that scientists around the world will no doubt continue to explore in detail. For us laymen, all we can do is marvel at how incredible these creatures are – both as individuals and as part of our natural world.

It might be said that only time can tell if a Whale shark truly belongs to one of these two categories. Until then, it remains an enigma that continues to inspire and amaze us!

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