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Swimming with the whale sharks of Isla Mujeres

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A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeds on bonito eggs just off the Yucatan peninsula in this video from underwater camera operator and filmmaker Simon Spear of View from the Blue Productions. Whale sharks, the planet’s largest fish, are filter feeders, animals that eats “by straining tiny food, like plankton, from the water.” From

In whale sharks, teeth don’t play a major role in feeding. In one of their filter-feeding methods, they suction water into their mouths at high velocities while remaining stationary. Food moves through filtering pads that cover the entrance of their throats. The filtering pads are broad mess pads full of millimeter-wide pores that act like a sieve, allowing water to pass through while capturing food particles.

Plus, more about the size of these gentle giants from Wikipedia:

Whale sharks have a mouth that can be 1.5 m (4.9 ft) wide, containing 300 to 350 rows of tiny teeth and 10 filter pads which it uses to filter feed. Unlike many other sharks, whale sharks’ mouths are located at the front of the head rather than on the underside of the head. Whale sharks have five large pairs of gills. The head is wide and flat with two small eyes at the front. Whale sharks are grey with a white belly. Their skin is marked with pale yellow spots and stripes which are unique to each individual

The whale shark is the largest non-cetacean animal in the world. The average size of adult whale sharks is estimated at 9.8 m (32 ft) and 9 t (20,000 lb)… The largest verified specimen was caught on 11 November 1949, near Baba Island, in Karachi, Pakistan. It was 12.65 m (41.5 ft) long, weighed about 21.5 t (47,000 lb), and had a girth of 7 m (23 ft).

Related projects:, a crowdsourced whale shark photo-identification library.

Previously: Close encounters of the giant kind: Diving with a whale shark and five big sharks that help keep our oceans healthy. Plus, watch more videos about filter feeders, including sea cucumbers and the basking shark.

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