Whale Shark - Distribution and Habitat

Distribution and Habitat

The whale shark inhabits all tropical and warm-temperate seas. Primarily pelagic, seasonal feeding aggregations occur at several coastal sites such as the southern and eastern parts of South Africa; Gladden Spit in Belize; Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia; Great Rann of Kutch in India; Útila in Honduras; Southern Leyte. Donsol, Pasacao and Batangas in the Philippines; off Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox in Yucatan, Mexico; Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia; Nosy Be in Madagascar Off Tofo Reef near Inhambane in Mozambique, and the Tanzanian islands of Mafia, Pemba, Zanzibar and, very rarely, Eilat, Israel. Although typically seen offshore, it has been found closer to land, entering lagoons or coral atolls, and near the mouths of estuaries and rivers. Its range is generally restricted to about ±30° latitude. It is capable of diving to depths of at least 1,286 metres (4,219 ft), and is migratory. On 7 February 2012, a large whale shark was found floating 150 kilometres (93 mi) off the coast of Karachi, Pakistan. The length of the specimen was said to be between 11 and 12 metres (36 and 39 ft), with a weight of around 7,000 kilograms (15,000 lb).

In 2011 the largest aggregation of whale sharks ever recorded was reported from the Yucatan coast of Mexico, in which more than 400 animals gathered in one place to feed on spawn from the little tunny, Euthynnus alletteratus.

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