#SundayFishSketch: Whale Shark

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Whale Sharks—are they whales or are they sharks? Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet, which of course means they aren’t whales at all since whales are marine mammals. Much like a whale, however, these gentle giants gracefully glide through the ocean filter feeding on some of the tiniest creatures in the sea such as plankton, small fish, and crustaceans. They can reach lengths of around 65 feet and weigh more than 35 tons, or 70,000 pounds—more than 3 school buses!

 

via GIPHY


Whale Sharks filter through nearly 1,500 gallons per hour by taking in huge gulps of water which the force out through their gills, while their food gets filtered out through structures called filter pads which are modified gill rakes.

via GIPHY

Their bluish-gray coloration which transforms to a white underbelly and stunning mix of stripes and spots help aid in a type of camouflage called counter-shading. From above their backs blend with the dark ocean beneath while the spots look like shimmering light. From underneath, their bellies blend with the bright light above the oceans surface. Much like a fingerprint, each Whale Shark has a unique pattern of spots and stripes which can be used to identify individuals by researchers and conservationist.

Whale sharks have a spectacular life cycle. They are oviviparous—females produce and lay eggs like most fish, but they develop and hatch inside the mother. After they’ve grown, the mother whale shark essentially gives live birth. It is unknown just how long they can live for, though they have been known to live between 100 and 150 years.


This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!

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