The Whale Shark – the gentle giants
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest fish in the ocean and is an endangered species due to their declines in population.
The number of whale sharks has more than halved in 75 years with legal and illegal fishing, entrapment in fishing gear, and collisions with boats responsible for the most deaths, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food—making them prime tourist attractions.The distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans.
Whale sharks are highly valued on international markets. Demand for their meat, fins and oil remains a threat to the species, particularly by unregulated fisheries. They are victims of bycatch, the accidental capture of non-target species in fishing gear. And whale shark tourism presents a threat to the species as it can interrupt their feeding and sharks can be injured by boat propellers.