by Khadijah Rahim
Sharks. Often thought of as deadly creatures, these large fish are making their way onto the list of endangered species. Even more surprising, the whale shark, the largest of the sharks, is endangered with the population rapidly decreasing.
With their flat head, grey body, white spots, these sharks are easily identifiable. Uniquely, similar to fingerprints, every whale shark has a specific set of spots no other shark will have. Weighing 20 tons, and stretching to 40 feet, these enormous whales eat about 46 pounds of plankton a day! Preferring warm waters, the whale sharks populate all tropical seas. Adult whale sharks are often seen feeding at the surface with a diving depth of more than 3000 feet. Though it is known females give birth, this has never been observed; and sightings of young whale sharks are very rare.
So despite their huge size, how are they endangered. Human involvement is taking these beautiful creatures away. The most significant threat being habitat loss due to overfishing of reef fish, coastal development, pollution, and increased boat traffic. Along with that, despite being protected from fishing, hunting their meat, skin, fin, and oil is very common in tropical countries. Unreputable whale shark tourism also leads to their decline as it disrupts feeding and can injure a shark. However, there are many reputable expeditions that are safe for both whale sharks and humans, and encourage people to see the beauty of whale sharks to help protect them!
How can you help? Take Instant Action in three simple steps.
1.) Keep your plastic out of the ocean! Better yet, go for something reusable to cut down on your plastic use.
2.) Want to go on a whale shark expedition? Choose a reputable company to ensure the safety of the whale shark.
3.) Last but certainly not least, educate yourself and pass on this knowledge to keep the world’s largest sharks flourishing.
Small steps make a big difference!