The whale shark is one of the most graceful and largest creatures around the world. Their skin has a pale yellow marking of stripes and dots on a dark gray background. Each one of them has their own unique pattern, just like each human having their own unique set of fingerprints. However, demand for their meat, fins, and oil pose a considerable threat to these fish and have made them vulnerable to extinction. This extinction risk is also attributed to bycatch (the accidental capture of non-target species in fishing gear) and human beings interaction. Efforts have been made by various organizations in order to combat this problem. However, more needs to be done if we want to make sure that this problem is gone once and for all. In order to understand why having whale sharks on this planet is important, let’s explore the whale shark habitat.
In order to understand whale shark habitat, we must understand how theses creatures feed and what they need to eat in order to survive. One of the most important aspects of whale sharks is their role as filter-feeders. Teeth don’t play a major role in the feeding process. They eat by straining tiny food, such as plankton, from the water. The whale shark is only one of three known shark species that feeds in this way, with the others being the basking shark and the megamouth shark. However, each shark is known to perform their process of filter feeding in a different way from one another.
A whale shark’s method of filter feeding deals with suctioning water into their mouths at high velocities while remaining stationary. The food then enters through filtering pads that cover the entrance of their throats. These filtering pads are board mess pads full of millimeter-wide pores that act like a sieve, allowing water to pass through while capturing the desired food particles. These gentle marine creatures will generally roam around the globe alone, but whale sharks have been known to gather in large numbers from time to time.
Whale sharks tend to enjoy temperate to warm waters. Because of this, they are generally found in the waters along the Equator. The fish is primarily pelagic, meaning that they live in the open sea, but not in the greater depths of the ocean. With this in mind, whale shark habitat is usually found in the waters around South Africa, Central America, and South America. Although they are typically seen offshore, the whale shark has been seen close to land, entering various lagoons and coral searching for food.
Like other sharks, the reproduction process takes a lot of time. The whale shark’s habitat is affected by this procedure. Like great white sharks, the whale shark is ovoviviparous, meaning that the egg remains within the body and the females give birth to live young. There is evidence that suggests that whale shark pups are not all born at once. Scientists have suggested that females are able to retain sperm for one mating session, and produce a steady flow of pups over a long period of time.
Don’t Let These Sharks Disappear
The whale shark habitat plays a crucial role is sustaining our world’s ecosystem. Without these gentle creatures eating all of the plankton and microorganisms that they do, our aquatic food chain would be all out of whack. Besides that, these creatures are absolutely breathtaking to look at. It would be a shame to rid this world of such a wondrous fish. You can learn more about whale sharks, and many other types of sharks at our website today. You can find out what you can do to help conservation efforts and pick up a free shark e-book today!