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ANDY MURCH ELASMO GEEK

 

WHAT IS ELASMODIVER?

Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.

There are now more than 10,000 shark pictures  and sections on shark evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:

WHAT'S NEW?

Shark picture - green sawfish

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WHALE SHARK

An enormous Whale Shark

the belly of a whale shark

Whale Shark pictures copyright Andy Murch

View all available Whale Shark Pictures in the Shark Pictures Database

Common Names: Whale shark, Whaleshark, Domino.

Latin Name: Rhincodon Typus

Family: Rhincodontidae

Identification: Enormous size (the whale shark is the world's largest fish). Body scalloped (with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin. Pattern of white spots and indistinct lines on grey dorsum. Ventrum white or pale. First dorsal large. Caudal large. Mouth terminal and often open when observed feeding on plankton.

Size: Maximum length 18m (unconfirmed) reliably to 16m.

Habitat: Pelagic. Whale sharks come into reef areas when food supply is abundant e.g. during coral spawning.

Abundance and distribution: Circumtropical except in the Mediterranean Sea.

Behavior: Usually seen swimming with mouth agape in feeding mode. Little is known about the Whale shark's biology, reproductive behaviour or migratory patterns.

whale shark feeding 

A whale shark swims along with mouth agape to collect plankton

Reproduction: Ovoviviparous. Previously thought to be oviparous due to an eggcase containing a Whale shark embryo dredged from the bottom of the sea. This perception changed in 1995 when a Taiwanese fishing boat harpooned an 8m female containing 300 embryos. Whale sharks have been observed at Ningaloo performing figure 8 maneuvers while nose to tail. It has been speculated that this may be some form of courting behavior.

Photographs:

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

Holbox Island, Mexico.

Similar species: Due to their size and distinct color patterns, whale sharks are unmistakable animals. I have heard people refer to Basking Sharks as whalesharks but there is no resemblance other than size and feeding habits.

Reaction to divers: Whale sharks generally move away from the noise created by scuba bubbles and from physical contact but they usually tolerate snorkelers and free divers well. Getting too close to a whale shark often causes it to dive and 'riding' sharks (holding onto the dorsal fin) interferes with their natural behaviour and should be discouraged even if local rules are very liberal.

Diving logistics: Operators in many places around the world run Whale shark encounters. Some use spotter planes while others rely on the sharks returning to well known feeding sites. Ningaloo Reef encounters are very predicable and the customers generally get a few sharks each day during the right season. For more information on Ningaloo go to the Exmouth / Ningaloo Whale Shark Encounters  page in the Shark diving hotspots section of Elasmodiver.

Another great place to see whale sharks is Holbox Island which is norh of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I have encountered more than 100 whale sharks at this spot in one week. The visibility tends to be poor but the sheer number of sharks makes up for it. More info on this encounter can be found on the Holbox Island Whale Shark Encounter page.

Whale sharks seasonally congregate off the coast of Mozambique where they have been filmed attacking bait balls.

Other diving locations submitted by readers:

Further reading:

       Reef Sharks and Rays of the World. Scott W. Michael. Sea Challengers.

       Sharks and Rays - Elasmobranch Guide of the World. Ralf M. Hennemann. IKAN.  

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