Meet the Whale Shark

Article | Updated 1 years ago

The Whale Shark, or Rhincodon typus, is the largest fish in existence. 

Image of a Whale Shark

Whale Shark
Image copyright Sue Morrison  


This fish can grow up to 1200 cm (a huge fish!), and is grey, blue, brown and white in colour, and is covered in a distinctive pattern of white spots and vertical lines. 


Despite its enormous size, the Whale Shark is a filter feeder that lives on different types of plankton. This includes crustaceans, fish eggs and small fishes. 


The Whale Shark is has a wide range throughout the world's oceans, but when visiting Australia, it lives in the waters off the northern coast. In can dive to depths of 1000 m (try running 1000 m, and then imagine diving that far down into the ocean!). At certain times of year, Whale Sharks can be found close to the shore, where there is a bountiful supply of their favourite food. Ningaloo Reef is a favourite haunt for this big fish! 


Not a lot is known about the breeding behaviours of the Whale Shark. One pregnant female was found to contain approximately 300 pups. Whale Sharks are viviparous, and pups are known to be free swimming when they reach a length of 40 – 50 cm.