Whale shark

Rhincodon typus

Family Rhincodontidae - sharks, whale

Body elongate, stout, very large; head broad and flattened somewhat, snout very short, squarish; color dark gray to reddish or greenish background, white or yellow on belly, numerous white or yellow spots and transvers lines on head and body; mouth very wide, near tip of head, eyes behind mouth; teeth very small; 3 ridges on each side of body, the lowermost extending to the tail forming a keel on each side of caudal peduncle; 1st dorsal fin originates behind midbody, tail fin crescent shape, upper lobe longer, no subterminal notch on upper lobe; nostrils with thick barbels; precaudal pit present.
Similar Species
The size and unique body patterning distinguish this shark from other sharks. The body patterning distinguishes it from whales.
Gulf, open ocean
Maximum Size
20 m (65.5 ft), common to 10 m (33 ft)
Fin Element Counts
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
This is the largest living fish in the oceans. It is a plankton feeder, but occationally eats on small fishes and invertebrates. The whale shark is protected by federal and state laws.
State size/bag limits
Bag limit is 0, this is a prohibited species; See Shark Regulations; Check for state record.