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Whale shark

A photographer swims alongside a whale sharkA photographer swims alongside a whale shark The whale shark is the biggest fish in the ocean, growing up to 12 metres (39 feet) long. It lives near the surface of the warmer oceans and far from land. The shark is brown with white spots across its back. It has hundreds of tiny teeth, but they are hardly ever used. Despite the fact its mouth is big enough to swallow two divers, the whale shark feeds only on tiny shrimp, fish and squid, filtered from the water passing through its gills.

Gentle giant

Whale shark, with diver for scaleWhale shark, with diver for scaleThe enormous whale shark is a gentle giant, of no threat to people. In the rare event that divers come across one of these shy creatures, it is not long before the shark slowly disappears into the depths. Whale sharks prefer to swim close to coral reefs where there are rich food supplies. Here they drift along close to the surface. Occasionally, they crash into boats, but they are often too busy feeding to notice.

The whale shark is a very slow swimmer, with a top speed of 5 km/h (3 mph).

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