Malay common name: Ikan Yu Paus
English common name: Whale Shark
Scientific name: Rhincodon typus
Photo Source: National Geographic
My name may give off the impression that I have a split personality but let me be clear: I am a shark and not a whale. The reason I’m called a whale shark is due to my enormous size; I can grow over 12 metres long! That makes me the largest fish in the world. (The blue whale, the largest mammal in the world, can grow up to 25 metres long, more than double my length.) You don’t have to fear me though because I don’t have teeth and I feed on zooplankton, the tiniest creatures in the ocean. This means I have to eat tons of them every day to get my fill. I use a method called filter feeding to scoop up my prey in mass quantities. To do this, I swim close to the surface with my mouth open to catch as many zooplankton as I can!
My family and I live in warm tropical waters around the world, including the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. I rarely venture into waters that are below 21 degrees Celsius. That’s too cold for me! You can usually find me close to the surface, where I catch most of my prey. When I do dive, I can reach depths of 1,900 metres! You can see me off the coast of Semporna, Sabah as well as Tioman Island.
You can learn more about me in this video.