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30 Aug 2021

Read these ‘fin’tastic facts for International Whale Shark Day

Berea Mail Picture: Ryan Daly. SAAMBR shared photos on their Facebook page

Whale sharks reach lengths of more than 14 m, making them the largest shark species.  The South African Association for Marine Biological (SAAMBR) Research shared this and other fun facts to commemorate International Whale Shark Day today (August 30).

SAAMBR spokesperson, Ann Kunz said these amazing creatures are close to extinction.

“Unfortunately, just like their size, the threats facing whale sharks are enormous. They are currently classified as endangered and face a high risk of extinction due to overfishing and destructive fishing methods,” said Kunz.

“By avoiding unsustainable seafood products, we can ensure that we are not contributing to the threats causing the rapid decline in the number of whale sharks gracing our oceans,” she added.

A common question is if a whale shark is classified as a whale, a shark or a fish.

“Whale sharks are in fact sharks, which makes them fish. The whale shark is the largest shark and fish species in the world reaching over 14 metres in length. You would think being this big the whale shark wouldn’t have any secrets, but there is plenty that scientists are yet to discover about these gentle giants,” said Kunz.

Kunz added that whale sharks are marathon swimmers.

“Whale sharks undertake long migrations of thousands of kilometres,” she concluded.