Whale Shark Feeding
The whale shark is one of the fish that has the most worries. For example, is it a shark or a whale? Without a doubt, this is a shark and has the physiology of any other fish, however, its name was given due to its enormous size, since it can reach 12 meters in length and weigh more than 20 tonnes.
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The whale shark inhabits the oceans and seas near the tropics, this because it needs a warm habitat, being at a depth of approximately 700 meters.
If you want to find out more information about this extraordinary species, in this animal expert article we tell you about whale shark feeding .
The digestive tract of the whale shark
The whale shark has a large mouth, so much so that its buccal cavity can measure approximately 1.5 meters wide, its jaw is very strong and robust and we find multiple rows composed by small and sharp teeth .
However, the whale shark in a manner similar to humpback whales (as for example the blue whale), since the amount of teeth that it has does not have a determining role in its feeding.
The whale shark sucks a large amount of water and food by closing the mouth, and later the water is filtered through its gills and expelled. On the other hand, any food that exceeds 3 millimeters in diameter, gets stuck in your buccal cavity and is subsequently swallowed.
What does the whale shark eat?
The oral cavity of a whale shark is so large that it could fit a seal, although this species of fish feeds on small life forms , especially krill, phytoplankton and algae, although it can also consume small crustaceans, such as squid and crab larvae, and small fish such as sardines, mackerel, tuna and small anchovies.
The whale shark consumes every day an amount of food equal to 2% of its body mass. However, you can also spend some periods without eating, as it has a power reserve system .
How do you whale shark?
The whale shark locates your food through olfactory signals , this is due in part to the tiny size of your eyes and the poor location of them.
In order to ingest its food, the whale shark is in a vertical position, keeping its buccal cavity close to the surface, and seeing constantly ingesting water, is able to pump the water through its gills, filtering, as we have already mentioned , the food.
The whale shark, a vulnerable species
According to IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), whale shark is a vulnerable species at risk of extinction , which is why fishing and sale of this species is prohibited and is punishable by law.
Some whale sharks remain in captivity in Japan and Atlanta, where they are studied and are expected to improve their reproduction, which should be the main subject of study since little is known about the reproductive process of the whale shark.