Saturday, June 4, 2011

Whale Shark

Notwithstanding its fearsome presence, the huge whale shark is an inoffensive filter-feeder that consumes vast amounts of microscopic marine plankton. It is the largest of all living fish.

Whale Shark
Whale sharks face a dubious destiny in the planet's oceans, for they are once again being found in building numbers. Whale sharks frequently assemble in imposing bunches, and this makes it plain for folks to get them. No one knows how many whale sharks are caught every year, but in areas where they have been heavily fished, their numbers have dropped significantly. All the more when they are not being gotten, whale sharks are often disturbed by the constant attention from divers and ecotourists who try to get close to them.

A Mystery Solved
Whale Shark
In 1953, an egg case containing a whale shark embryo was netted in the Gulf of Mexico. Unusually, though, this egg case had very thin walls compared with the tough, leathery egg cases of other known egg-laying species of shark. It also lacked the characteristic tendrils, the fibrous strands on the egg case that help it become attached to seaweeds and other objects in the sea, rather than drifting in the ocean currents.


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