Good Example Of Research Paper On Whale Sharks

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Shark, Fish, Water, Species, Surface, Distribution, Rhincodon, Food

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/08

Whale Sharks
The whale shark scientifically known as Rhincodon typus, is the largest known non mammalian vertebrate existing in the universe. The whale shark is also the second largest fish species in the universe after the sperm whale. The largest individual in history that has been caught weighed 21.5 metric tonnes and was measuring 12.65 meters in length. However, they still exist unconfirmed reports of existence larger individual.
Today binomial nomenclature, places the whale shark to the genus Rhinidon and the family Rhinocodontidae and it’s the only sole member in that genus. The species is also classified in the subclass Elamobranchii and class Chrontrinchthyes. Nevertheless, like the rest sharks it was believed to have originated 60 million years ago. Its name is attributed to its size which is equivalent to most whales (Wilson, 2006). The whale shark has a very broad distribution usually in the latitudes 30 degrees north and 35 degrees south. Shark whale usually prefers warm waters they are limiting their distribution to the warm temperature soars and the tropical region. The fish is widely known to inhabit both shallow and deep coastal water as well as lagoons of coral reefs and atolls. The most reliable location, distribution of this marine fish is the Australian water, although there has also been a regular sighting in South East Asia, Mexico and South Africa.
The fish species is known to prefer surface sea water with a temperature of 21 to 25 degrees, according to studies, but most actually sighting are seen in water around 27 degrees. This ecological distribution is majorly as a result of seasonal food pulses. The sharks are seen regularly in locations where seasonal food pounding appears to occur. Examples of these predictable aggregations usually occur in Ningaloo Marine Park in Australia and are usually associated with the productivity increase in the region. During this mass aggregation, mass coral spawning occurs, especially in the months of March and April each year (Wilson et al., 2006).
The shark usually uses it gill to obtain oxygen from the water. This makes them different from the air breathing dolphins and whales. Therefore, the whale shark is an aquatic pelagic species that can exist even in the benthic surface since it has no physiological significance to swim at the surface. Nevertheless, during the seasonal aggregation they whale fish usually swim to the surface. The physiological adaptation of the whale fish using gills to obtain oxygen makes the species very tolerant is deep diving. The whale shark has been recorded to dive to great depths of about 700 meters and remaining on the surface for a very long time. According to (Wilson et al., 2006), although whale sharks are known of great distance swimmers, their seasonal migration is not very well known. The recent studies have shown that whale shark presumes northerly migration, especially in Australian waters. The satellite tracking by the USA has shown that whale sharks can travel for 1000 kilometers. In the recent new technologies of tagging and tracking are expected to come up with the answers on the migratory patterns of the whale shark.
According to (Rowat, 2012) due to the large size of the whale shark it has better defenses, therefore, very few natural enemies and no known parasite attached to them. However, there are reports of killer sharks and the great white sharks attacking and killing adult whale sharks. Moreover, the juveniles are more vulnerable, especially to the swordfish and blue sharks. Man is the greatest enemy whale shark as there is fished by commercial fishermen who especially target them during aggregations for their meat and fins. Today, the whale shark is much endangered and various countries have come up with protection procedures. Major earth events, especially global warming, and increase in human population have attributed to changes in the geographical distribution and reproductive success of the whale shark like the recent case where they have been reported of sighting in East African waters. Increase in man population is a threat to the successful reproduction of the species as most of them end up hunted by commercial fishermen and treasure seekers (Rowat, 2012).
They are social solely member of the community seeking food alone, but aggregation occurs during spawning. They have an internal fertilization and give birth to young ones condition known as Viviparous. No one has ever reported the reproductive behavior of whale sharks. They are known to attain maximum sexual maturity at 9 meters that around the age of 30 and can live for 100 years. They usually take care of their young ones by teaching them to seek food and protection against enemies. Whale shark usually feed on tiny preys which include plankton, squid eggs and fish, and small shoaling bait fish. They usually feed using suction filter feeding and ram. They are known for seeking high densities of prey, which result to often seasonal visitors to a specific location. Their constant dive and ascend in the water, perhaps, is to actively seek for areas with high prey density (Gudger, 1915).
In conclusion, It is evident that the whale shark is one of the most dangerous fishes in the aquatic environment. Just like the other fish the whale shark usually uses its lateral line to detect the echolocation within water The whale shark also has a very strong sight vision that makes it able to view well in water. The strong site also helps the shark to spot its prey from a distance and go after it. They have specific characteristic skin patterns of lines and spots that make them well camouflaged in this oceanic environment.


Gudger Ph.D., F. (1915). Natural History of The Whale Shark Rhincodon typus.
Rowat, D., & Brooks, K. (2012).A review of the biology, fisheries and conservation of the whale shark Rhincodon typus.Jounarl of Fish Biology,80. Retrieved from 10.1111/j1095.
Wilson, S., Polovina, J., & Meekan, M. (2006). Movements of whale sharks (Rhincodon Typus) tagged at Ningaloo Reef Western Australia. Retrieved from Marine Biology 148:1157-1166.

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