Whale sharks live in all tropic and warm-temperate seas except evidently the Mediterranean. It is thought to be primarily pelagic (prefer an open-ocean habitat) but seasonal feeding aggregations do occur at several coastal sites throughout the tropic. The most well documented sites are in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California, Belize, Honduras, Western Australia, the Galapagos, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, India, Pakistan, the Maldives, the Seychelles and Thailand.
Whale sharks have been found off shore and close to land, entering lagoons or coral atolls, and near the mouths of estuaries and rivers. Its range is generally restricted to about ±30˚ latitude although whale sharks have been seen at higher latitudes on occasion of the coast of South Africa and eastern North America.
Although whale sharks exist mainly in areas where the sea surface temperature is between 25˚C and 30˚C tagging studies have shown they are capable of diving very deep in excess of 1600 meters where they tolerate temperatures as low as 3˚C.
Whale sharks are highly mobile animals, capable of swimming thousands of miles. Despite often being described as such, it is yet to be seen whether whale sharks are truly migratory. Migratory animals move between particular areas on regular seasonal or annual schedules as opposed to simple movements within more defined home ranges, or immigration or emigration.
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