Unfortunately, sea turtles have been joined by a new species on the Endangered Species List - Whale Sharks. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, whale sharks have moved up the list, moving from Vulnerable to Endangered.
Whale sharks are the largest of all fish species and have been known to live between 100-150 years. They can grow up to 40 feet and weigh as much as 47,000 lbs! Like human fingerprints, whale sharks have a unique pattern of spots on their body which allow individual whale sharks to be identified among other sharks. These gentle giants can be found in oceans around the world and are typically found swimming alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks have been seen gathering in areas where an abundant of plankton is found. The wide distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans worldwide.
Not much is known about the early developmental stages of whale sharks or mating procedures and researchers are still trying to answer questions such as, "Where do they mate?" and "Where are all the big males?"
One thing we do know for sure is that whale sharks DO need OUR help! With public education and more awareness of the critical condition whale sharks are falling into, there is the potential to reverse their endangerment. Help whale sharks now by raising awareness of the situation!