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The Whale Shark
Transcript of The Whale Shark
Diet The whale shark is a filter feeder — one of only three known filter feeding shark species (along with the basking shark and the megamouth shark). It feeds on macro-algae, plankton, krill, Christmas Island red crab larvae, and small nektonic life such as small squid or vertebrates. The many rows of teeth play no role in feeding; in fact, they are reduced in size in the whale shark. Instead, the shark sucks in a mouthful of water, closes its mouth and expels the water through its gills. During the slight delay between closing the mouth and opening the gill flaps, plankton is trapped against the dermal denticles which line its gill plates and pharynx.
Food Web Whale sharks are widely distributed in a band around the equator ranging from the latitudes 35 degrees south and 30 degrees north.
Whale sharks are infrequently encountered even though they are present in all the oceans of the world, except the southern, Arctic Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.
They have been seen around the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Eastern Pacific Islands of the Northern Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos, the Revilligigedo Islands, the Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, western Australia at Ningaloo Reef, the east coast of South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Comores Islands and along the coast lines of Madagascar. Habitat Interactions With Other Species Whale Sharks are not know to interact with other animals in the ocean but do infact interact with humans. Whale Sharks do not pose as a danger to humans. Many Whale Sharks have been aproached, examined and even ridden by humans Predator Vs Prey Predators: Humans are the main predators of Whale Sharks, also the remains of young have been found in the stomachs of Blue Sharks and Marlins. It is also believed that Orcas, (Killer Whales) may attack Whale Sharks.
Prey: Whale Sharks feed on wide variety of planktonic (microscopic) and nektonic (larger free-swimming) prey, such as small crustaceans, schooling fishes, and occasionally on tuna and squids. Also, phytoplankton (microscopic plants) and macroalgae (larger plants) may form a component of the diet. Reproduction A whale shark may have hundreds of thousands of eggs inside her but not every egg will become an embryo. Some of these eggs are actually food for the other eggs that do develop into embryos. An embryo eats the other eggs for energy and therefore to grow.
The whale sharks that are born are called pups. For whale shark reproduction and baby whale shark birth, the pups are over 60cm (2 feet) long.
Sexual maturity in whale sharks does not occur until they reach about 9metres long. This means a whale shark reproduction maturity age of about 30 years old. Whale sharks live for about 60-100 years. Structure Survival Straegies Recent studies have indicated that many species possess powerful problem-solving skills, social skills and curiosity. The brain- to body-mass ratios of sharks are similar to mammals and birds. Sources www.whaleshark.org.za/Whale_Shark-Distribution_Habitat.html -