Whale Shark

Whale Shark South Africa

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Whale Sharks South Africa
Whale Shark

WHALE SHARK – Rhinocodon typus.
Identification: Whale sharks are the worlds largest living fish, reaching lengths of 13m and weighing up to 13 tonnes. Once you overcome the initial awe of being in the presence of such an enormous shark several things should then become apparent. The huge, square and very wide mouth (thankfully the 3000 teeth in each jaw are minute and covered by a flap of skin) and the prominent ridging along the back, beautifully decorated with distinctive white spots and dashes – take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the show – see Mozambique dive tours.

Biology: Information is limited. The female produces live young (according to one reference as many as 300) from eggs attached to the uterus. Whale sharks, like the basking shark, are filter feeders, using their huge mouths to ‘vacuum’ zooplankton, squid and small fish which are then filtered through the sieve like structures inside the 5 large gill slits at each side of the head. It is believed that whale sharks only reach sexual maturity at 30 years of age or approx. 9m in length and that they may have a life span exceeding 100 years.

Behavior: Whale sharks occur in all tropical and warmer temperate waters and are highly migratory, their movements following plankton blooms and the changing temperatures of water masses. Preferring a balmy 21-25 degrees Celsius. Sightings in South Africa are more common in the summer months off the south coast of KwaZulu Natal, Sodwana Bay and Ponta Do Ouro Mozambique.

Shark Identification South Africa

What shark did we see?

When trying to identify any wild animals, colour is usually the least important feature. When it comes to identifying sharks try get a good look at the tail and any obvious markings – spots patterns and dark tips on the fins are always useful. Combine this with the size and location of fins and you should be getting pretty close to pinning down the family – if not the species -good luck!

Blue Sharks South Africa
Sharks of South Africa

Blue Shark

BLUE SHARK – Prionace glauca. Identification: The blue shark is a slender, elongate shark that may attain a length of 3.8 m. The body of the blue shark is

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Tiger Sharks South Africa
Oceans Africa News

Tiger Shark

TIGER SHARK – Galeocerdo cuvier. Identification: Another unmistakable submarine presence, tiger sharks are thought attain 7m in length, however sightings

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Ragged toothed shark South Africa
Sharks of South Africa

Ragged Toothed Shark

SPOTTED RAGGED TOOTHED SHARK – Charcharius taurus. Identification: Ragged toothed sharks are perhaps South Africa’s best loved sharks. Affectionately known

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This text has been compiled from several different sources, personal observations and anecdotes. It is intended to serve as a popular guide only. While every effort has been made to keep the information accurate and updated, it should not be seen in any way as a scientific text or reference.

Copyright: Oceans Africa 2012       Original artwork: Graeme S. Grant