Whale sharks are known to be the biggest fish and shark in the world. These gentle giants roam the oceans around the globe, usually alone. Although mighty is size, these animals are now classified as in a state of endangerment on the IUCN red list.
Unfortunately, we humans considerably contribute to this status, with their meat valued highly in Asia and their fins being sold for shark fin soup, a dish classed as a delicacy within the continent. With your help, adopting a whale shark today will help contribute to the protection of this species and ensure that whale sharks get back to a healthy population.
This is something very important to us here at Ocean Scuba Dive and also one of the reasons we have put together Project Ocean.
Below we have put together five reasons why you should adopt a whale shark today and also some interesting facts about this beloved shark.
Five Reasons Why you Should Adopt a Whale Shark
Help Ensure there is Sustainable use of our Oceans
One of the main reasons behind the decline in our whale shark numbers is the irresponsible use or our natural resources. Due to human beings over fishing, many whale sharks find themselves caught in the fishing nets and often drown in the process. This is called by catch, and it is very important that we do something about it.
Many whale sharks are also badly injured and even killed by ships that trawl the seas. Regulation of our ocean for such events is required, and this can be supported by adopting a whale shark.
Help Fight Ocean Pollution
Human pollution of our ocean is another major threat. Not only do whale sharks become very sick as a result of the pollution made by humans dumping into our oceans, but also the ecosystem that supports them is damaged in the process as well.
People are often blinded by the things they cannot see, ocean pollution is one of those things. What is ocean pollution? You are able to help the whale shark population by adopting one today and using that money to help go towards lobby governments to regulate change.
Help Fight Against Climate Change
As many of us know, climate change is not only a threat to whale sharks. It’s much bigger than that, and also a threat to us human beings. Although we all know about the different effects of global warming on mankind, a lot less is known about the impact it has on our ocean life.
Climate change is already making a huge impact on underwater food chains, which is most certainly going to cause lasting damage to all different kinds of species, including whale sharks. This is a global emergency and we must act and do something about it now, before it is too late. By adopting a whale shark you will play a part of the solution to help us make a difference.
Help Protect the Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are very highly valued within the international markets. There is very high demand for their meat, fins and oil which remains a threat to the species, particularly by unregulated fisheries. Not only are they victims of by catch, whale shark tourism also presents a threat to their species, as this can interrupt their feeding habits and whale sharks are also often injured by boat propellers.
One of the best ways to protect the whale sharks and other marine species is to help establish marine habitats that are then protected from human activities. It’s these habitats that provide sanctuary and enable the whale sharks numbers to recover. It is not easy trying to convince governments to prevent people from making a living but that is exactly what has to happen if we are to ensure that whale shark populations stay and maintain healthy.
Each donation will help to reduce the threats to these intelligent and beloved creatures and also help create a better environment for them all to live in.
Adopting a Whale Shark makes a Great Gift Idea
Whale sharks are gentle giants, a non-threat to us humans and a pleasure to see. By making a choice to adopt an animal today, you are not only helping that species, but you are also supporting the world’s oceans. Can you think of a more thoughtful gift for an ocean lover? I know I can’t.
Help us help the whale shark population today by adopting one for someone who loves them. The give of giving is truly one of the best.
Adopt a whale shark today and I can assure you, they will thank you for it!
5 Facts about Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet. They can reach up to 14 metres in length, that’s 46 feet long! And are known to weigh up to a hefty 12 tons.
Whale sharks are not related to whales in any way. Although, they are actually sharks. They are very docile animals and pose no real threat to us humans.
Whale sharks have around 3000 individual teeth. Most sharks have around 20 to 30 rows of pearly whites, but whale sharks have more than 300 rows of teeth! Each one of them is the size of a match head.
Whale sharks are not the fastest of swimmers. Unlike other sharks, whale sharks reach speeds no higher than 5 kmph. They use their bodies to swim by moving side to side, rather than using their tails to swim like other sharks such as the great white.
Whale sharks are filter feeders. This means that they sieve plankton through their gills for much of their nourishment. They do however, also sieve squid, krill and other small fish. Whale sharks can filter an average of 1500 gallons of water every hour!
Did You Know?
Each whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots and stripes, similar to our fingerprints, the reason for this is so you can tell an individual whale shark by looking at the arrangement of its spots and stripes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Whale Sharks
Are Whale Sharks Endangered?
According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the Indo Pacific population of the whale is thought to have reduced by 63 percent over the past 75 years, and over in the Atlantic, reduced to more than 30 percent. Whale shark populations are going to continue to decrease unless we act now.
Whale sharks continue to this day to be commercially hunted. This hunting is a serious threat to their population. Hundreds of whale sharks are still being fished every year in countries such as China and Oman. The reason for this is often for shark fin soup, where only the fin is used and the remainder of the fish is uneaten and sometimes thrown back into the water to drown – an act known as shark finning.
It is because of these threats and decreases in their population, that the amazing whale shark is now classified as endangered. Help support them by adopting one today.
Where do Whale Sharks Live?
Whale sharks are mostly found in the tropical and warm temperate oceans. These include the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean. They like to swim in deep waters usually alone.
However, whale sharks are known to gather in large groups periodically in coastal waters, where they feed on seasonal food sources. An amazing sight to see if you are ever lucky enough. Up to as many as 400 whale sharks can gather together for a feeding frenzy if for example there was a tunny spawn occurring.
What do Whale Sharks Eat?
Although we now know that whale sharks have around 3000 teeth, they really don’t do all that much. Despite the whale sharks enormous size, they dine very exclusively on small forms of life such as plankton, krill, small fish and even small fish eggs. The whale sharks will usually swallow their food whole. Attached to their gills, is a mesh like network of long cartilaginous bars, which are known as gill rakers. This is what allows the water to escape but actually prevents the millimetre sized victims from doing so!
More often than not, whale sharks lazily swim with their mouths open. This is a way of low energy feeding and allows the whale shark to passively swallow the food items it has within its path!
Did you Know?
Adult whale sharks actually have no natural predators. The only threat to their survival is human activity. However, blue sharks and blue marlins are known to sometimes prey on young whale sharks.
Can a whale shark eat a human?
A frequent question, but don’t worry, humans are safe from these gentle giants. Whale sharks are generally neutral and sometimes even friendly to us human beings. Some young whale sharks have even known to play with passing divers.
Having said this, just like all marine life, it is very important to ensure you respect their space and do not disturb their habitat. There any many instances of people trying to ride whale sharks, and although it isn’t illegal, it’s inherently dangerous to both humans and whale sharks. Please show them respect.
How old can Whale Sharks get?
The answer is, we don’t actually know how old whale sharks can live to. Most of the experts agree that whale sharks reach their sexual maturity at the age of 30, but their life expectancy is unknown, with estimations being all over the place.
According to some ichthyologists, this big fish species may live up to their sixties, whilst others believe that whale sharks can live to be over 100 or even 150 years old!