Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea and are found in tropical waters that are both deep and shallow. Even though they are huge animals, their diet consists mostly of tiny organisms called plankton. They also eat krill, jellyfish, squid and smaller fish.
A whale shark can weigh as much as 67,938 pounds and grow to over 65 feet long, although the average length is about 23 feet. They are not whales because they are cold-blooded and breathe through gills. Their skin also has tooth-like scales called dermal denticles, and their skeletons are made of cartilage. This makes them like other sharks. Whale sharks also lack a ribcage.
Whale sharks give birth to live young. The eggs are fertilized internally and remain in the mother until they hatch. One female whale shark was found to have over 300 eggs and embryos at different stages of development. That they were fathered by one male whale shark suggests that the female has a way to store sperm. Scientists believe that female whale sharks return to the places where they were born to breed.
Scientists believe that whale sharks can live to be over 100 years old. They are migratory, usually solitary and do not defend territories.