Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Rhincodon typus, Whale shark

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head wide
mouth short, transverse
body: white spots
C: semilunar, base with keel



Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828

Whale shark

Robust body; snout very short and broad; eye small, round; mouth wide, transverse, a little behind tip of snout; five long gill slits, last three over pectoral fin; two dorsal fins, first over pelvics, second and smaller fin over anal; tail fin almost symmetrical, with large lower lobe; tail base flattened, with large keel that continues forward as crest along body and over gill slits, with two more crests above along body.

Dark, with prominent white spots.

Size: 12 m (old visual records to 21 m).

Habitat: pelagic in nearshore and offshore waters.

Depth: 0-240 m.

This species is distributed worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas, including throughout the eastern Pacific.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • In & Offshore
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Surface
  • Mid Water
  • Water column only
  • Near Surface
  • Water column
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Zooplankton
  • Pelagic fish eggs
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Data
  • Pelagic crustacea
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • No data
  • No pelagic larva
  • Live birth
Global Endemism
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • TEP non-endemic
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • All species
  • All Pacific (West + Central + East)
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
Regional Endemism
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Vulnerable
  • Listed
  • Appendix II
  • Listed
Length Max
  • 2140
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 240