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Harmless giants

Tiburón ballena

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The whale shark is the largest fish in existence and can be found in all the oceans of the world. Despite its imposing appearance and reaching lengths of up to 14 meters, the whale shark is a gentle and docile giant.

Its feeding habits have more in common with whales than with typical shark feeding. It swims slowly near the surface, where it consumes small planktonic crustaceans. Although it has 300 rows of teeth, they are very small and do not allow it to bite or chew, but they do help it retain the precious plankton.

To accomplish this, the whale shark filters water as it swims, absorbing and expelling up to 2,000 tons of water per hour. When seen from the front, with its enormous mouth open, it gives the impression of being an empty creature. Its large size and 10 cm thick skin, thicker than an elephant’s skin, mean that the whale shark has no natural enemies in the sea.

The lack of blubber keeps it out of the interests of whaling fleets, while its massive size poses a problem for artisanal fishermen. That’s why this giant moves peacefully near the surface without much fear. Encountering a whale shark is a delight for snorkelers or scuba divers, as it is an extremely curious animal that allows humans to approach, touch, and even hang on to its fins for an impromptu underwater ride.

“One cannot defend what one does not love, and one cannot love what one does not know.”