Like something out a Jules Vern novel, a 10 meter long whale shark — the world’s largest fish — emerged from the sea just off the Pakistani coast yesterday. The enormous whale shark unfortunately was dead when it washed up to shore. It took two cranes and four hours to pull the slippery beast from the water on to a jetty. An enterprising Pakastani bought the fish (from whom I wonder?) for over 1.7 million rupees ($18,758) with plans to put it on display and charge admission.
After looking at the pictures of this particular whale shark and how dwarfed the human onlookers appear to be in comparison, it is difficult to imagine that this 10 meter shark is of moderate size as far as whale sharks go. Scientists believe this fish can grow up to 20 meters – double the size of the Pakastani specimen!
The whale shark has no known predators other than man (although, one could argue that having man prey on you is more than enough). Like the blue whale, they are gentle sea giants feeding on plankton, crustaceans, schooling fish and squid.
This fishy giant of the sea is listed on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Animals as “indeterminate” status. This category applies to species known to be endangered, vulnerable or rare, but currently lacking enough available information to appropriately place it into one of these three categories.
Even though whale sharks may seem exotic and so far away, here are two ways you can act to lend a protecting hand to these gentle giants:
Sign these Care2 petitions for whales.
Also read this Action Alert that links canned tuna to whale sharks.
Photo: Wiki Commons (the live shark featured in the above photo is not the shark featured in this story)