Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

Written by Patrick

Facts about whale sharks including their conservation status, behavior, and more.

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While its population is classified as endangered, the whale shark rose to popularity in the Philippines due to tourism.  The Philippines is one of the many countries in the world where people can meet and swim with this gentle giant in their natural habitat.

As of now, there are a few spots in the country where you can get the opportunity to be with these creatures.  The most popular is in Oslob, Cebu but their practices have been considered unethical by many due to over tourism thus advocates suggest getting the experience in other places such as Donsol in Sorsogon and Sogod Bay in Leyte as the practices are better and overcrowding is avoided.

Below are some interesting facts about whale sharks.

Largest extant fish

The whale shark ranks number one as the largest fish species existing today.  Studies show that the average length of whale sharks is between 14 to 21.9 meters however the largest confirmed individual is at 18.8 meters in length and 21.5 tons in weight.  The whale shark is also the largest non-mammalian vertebrate and largest non-cetacean animal in the world.

The species is given the name “whale shark” due to its size which is as large as some species of whales and its filter feeding habit is not different from that of baleen whales.

Not endemic to the Philippines

The whale shark is not endemic to the Philippines.  It is migratory and has been spotted in the Atlantic, Australia, and Asia.

Its population is endangered

The waters of the Philippines are inhabited by less than 2,000 whale sharks, the second largest known whale shark population in the world.  The species is protected nationally thus fishing, selling, importing, and exporting is banned in the country.

Gentle giants

The whale shark is sometimes referred to as “gentle giant” due to their gentle nature, the behavior which makes it possible for humans to swim and interact with them.  Some have been spotted to allow humans to catch a ride but the activity is highly discouraged by experts so as not to disturb their natural tendencies.

Long life span

When in natural habitat, the whale shark is estimated to live for 80 to 130 years.

Feeding mode danger

The whale shark is a filter feeder, which means it obtains food from water by passing the water through a filtering system.  A whale shark just opens its mouth and either swims forward to push water and food into the mouth or sucks in volumes of water with food.  As such, the whale shark is susceptible to ingesting microplastics which can eventually affect their health.

Do you know more facts about whale sharks? Please share in the comment section below.

READ MORE: Ethically Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

Have YOU swam with the Whale Sharks in the Philippines?

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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