Photo credit: Chris Wildblood
The Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus, is listed as ‘VULNERABLE’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters, it is the largest fish in the world, yet feeds almost entirely on tiny plankton, crustaceans and small fish.
The Whale Shark has been targeted in many areas for its flesh, liver oil and fins. Although relatively little is known about the biology of this species, its long lifespan and slow reproductive rate, together with a naturally low abundance and highly migratory nature, are likely to increase its vulnerability to overexploitation by fisheries.
Whale Sharks are legally protected in a number of countries, and international trade in the species is regulated by CITES. This huge, charismatic shark now plays an important role in ecotourism in places such as Thailand, South Africa, the Maldives and the Seychelles, providing a valuable source of income for local economies. Although the impacts on the sharks’ behaviour are currently unknown, tourism may help to protect the species by giving it more value alive than fished.
To learn more about the Whale Shark, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.
To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.