Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species.
Males on average reach 8 to 9 meters in length. Females reaching a length of around 14.5 m (48 ft) on average. Although this does not represent the maximum possible size.
Studies looking at vertebral growth bands and the growth rates of free-swimming sharks have estimated whale shark lifespans at 80–130 years.
R. typus mouths can contain over 300 rows of tiny teeth and 20 filter pads which it uses to filter feed.
Growth, longevity, and reproduction of the whale shark are poorly understood.
Whale sharks exhibit late sexual maturity. One study looking at free-swimming whale sharks estimated the age at maturity in males at ~25 years.
Pupping of R. typus has not been observed, but mating has been witnessed twice in St Helena. Mating in this species was filmed for the first time in whalesharks off Ningaloo Reef via airplane in Australia in 2019, when a larger male unsuccessfully attempted to mate with a smaller, immature female.
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