On the Man Eater Danger Scale the Whale Shark scores a zero. It has never attacked a human and it does not have the physiology to do so.
The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest shark alive today and it is the largest fish in the world. It is not a whale and while whales are bigger, whales are classified as mammals.
The largest Whale Shark caught to date weighed in at an impressive 47,000 pounds and was 41.5 feet long. However, this weight is in question. There are multiple accounts of Whale Sharks being caught larger than this, exceeding 65,000 pounds and close to 50 feet long. We could not verify these accounts.
Whale Shark Food preferences
The Whale shark is wrongly believed to feed solely upon plankton. While it does consume a lot of plankton and is designed and evolved to extract small plants and animals out of the water through its gills as it swims, it also feeds on small fish.
Sites and research that claims the Whale Shark only feeds upon plankton simply have not done sufficient research or their research is out of date. Whale Sharks do not have the capacity to chew or bite their prey so they swallow small fish whole.
Whale Shark Distribution
The Whale Shark is found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Though it can be found moving out of this area in the summer and where bait fish and zooplankton blooms are found in abundance outside of this area. While the Whale Shark does feed on bait fish, its primary food source is zooplankton and it will follow these blooms the world over.
Whale Shark Features
The Whale Shark has a flat head with the eyes located at the front of its head as one would expect with a predator. The Whale Shark has a typical shark form with the characteristic tail with the upper lob being about 20 percent larger than the lower lob.
The top of its body is grey covered with white spots and stripes or varying size. The underside, as is the case with most fish is an off white. The stripes and spots are yellow.
The Whale Shark’s mouth has about 3,000 to 4,000 small teeth in 300 rows in each jaw. Little is know what these are used for. Are the teeth just a remnant from a time when they used their teeth to grabbing a hold of prey? And while little is known about what these teeth are used for, most claim they are not used for feeding.
In animals that have thousands of small teeth, they are usually used for biting onto or grinding at prey. The other option is that these teeth were once used but over thousands of years they became irrelevant and stopped being useful.
The Whale Shark lives a long life. Scientists do not know for sure how long they live, but it is believed that they can live as long as 150 years on the high end and 100 on the low end.
Whale Shark Man Eater Danger Scale
On the Man Eater Danger Scale the Whale Shark scores a zero. It has never attacked a human and it does not have the physiology to do so. When in the present of humans it does not take aggressive actions and is quite passive.