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Whale Sharks - Giants of the deep

Whale sharks have been in Hawaiian waters for as long as anyone here can remember.

Despite its name and size, the whale shark is not a whale but classified in a family of its own "Rhincodontidae". Its closest relatives are the leopard and nurse sharks.

whale shark approaches the boat on the Best of West charter The world's largest fish, some as big as a school bus and weighing up to 37 tons, are not aggressive. No one knows how long these fish live. Some estimates have said up to 180 years.

Females can carry up to 300 eggs. They hatch inside the mother but very few survive to maturity. Once the juvenile has established itself the mother will leave it and move on.

The Penguin Banks and the channel between Lanai and Molokai are favored by manta rays, sharks, whales, dolphins and whale sharks.

Wild Side works with Ecocean to identify whale sharks through photo identification and thus to monitor their comeback after recent whale shark fishing bans.

Whale Shark photos by Kara Benson, Wild Side crew member

Maui News reports on a rare albino whale shark.

Whale Shark With Small Fish Wallpaper from Nat. Geo.

ENLARGE

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Gentle giants, whale sharks filter-feed, swimming with their wide mouths open, collecting plankton and small fish.
Photograph by Brian J. Skerry




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