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Migration & habitat of the whale sharks

For the next few months we’re going to share some facts about the whale sharks every week with you. In this first episode we’re talking about the taxonomy & classification of the whale sharks!

The whale shark may be harmless, but it’s a true shark, because it has a skeleton made from cartilage, that is lighter and more flexible than bone. Its skin is covered in dermal denticles, for parasite repellent and hydronamica and it has several rows of replaceable teeth, very sharp teeth.

 

01 Dermal denticles

Dermal denticles

01 Replaceable rows of teeth

Replaceable rows of teeth


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These features have made sharks very successful animals. They have been dominant species on Earth, pre-dating dinasaurs by 220 million years. Today there are 440 different species of sharks ranging from smallest, the lantern shark, to the largest, the whale shark. Sharks live in many different geographic and vertical habitats and some like the bull shark and river shark can survive in fresh, brackish, and salt water.

 

 

Primitive six-gilled frilled shark

Primitive six-gilled frilled shark

 

The whale shark is one of the Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks) and is the only species in the family Rhincodontidae. It doesn’t have any very close relatives but it does share some features with other carpet sharks like the nurse shark and the zebra shark. For example, they all have two dorsal fins and their mouths are positioned at the very front of their bodys – in front of their eyes. The zebra shark also has clear ridges along its back like the whale shark and the nurse shark has similar nostrils.

 

01 Shark order

Order of sharks

 

There are two other large filter feeding sharks, the basking shark and megamouth shark, but they are in the mackerel shark order and are not closely related to the whale shark.

 

If you are interested in facts about the whale sharks, make sure you read this blog every week. If you want more information and want to get the latest news from EcoColors subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

For the next few months we’re going to share some facts about the whale sharks every week with you. In this second episode we’re talking about the distribution & habitat of the whale sharks!

 

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.

 

02 Habitat

Migration and Habitat of the whale sharks

 

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 ±30º 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 25ºC and 30ºC tagging studies have shown they are capable of diving very deep in excess of 1600 meters where they tolerate temperatures as low as 3ºC.

 

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.

 

If you are interested in facts about the whale sharks, make sure you read this blog every week. If you want more information and want to get the latest news from EcoColors subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

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Migration & habitat of the whale sharks
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Migration & habitat of the whale sharks
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For the next few months we’re going to share facts about the whale sharks with you. In this second episode we’re talking about the distribution & habitat!
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EcoColors Tours Mexico
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EcoColors
The best tours in Mexico, we offer the whale shark tour, swim with turtles tour, the monarch butterfly tour, bull shark diving tour, white shark tour, Sian Kaan tour, Holbox tour and much more!

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