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Whale Shark - Rhincodon typus
Photo by Howard Hall

Whale sharks are grayish-brown with white spots and lines, and a white underside. Individuals are usually between 20 and 55 feet long making them the largest fish in the world. They are filter feeders that ingest plankton, fish, squids, and pelagic crustaceans as they open their very large mouths. Whale sharks are usually seen in open water, but occasionally spend time off of coral walls and steep slopes. They are found worldwide in tropical waters at depths to 100 feet.

Whale Shark
(Rhincodon typus)

Worldwide, temperate and tropical waters

Open water

Plankton, baitfish, squid, and pelagic crustaceans


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Whale sharks are only seen in the sanctuary late June through September, which are the warmest months of the year.

Learn More
- Florida Museum of Natural History
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- National Wildlife Federation