Friends of Moyo: Oceans
In “Moyo’s Journey”, on the Indigo page, she explores the deep oceans along with many creatures we know. Not included in the original illustration from the book is the world’s largest fish and one of the biggest creatures on earth – the gentle whale shark. I guess I’m holding out for a standalone “Oceans Journey” follow-up with Moyo, sometime in the future.
The only predator these magnificent animals have is us humans. Yup. Again. They are considered to be some of the most vulnerable marine animals and some of the most endangered sharks. I always believe that to love something you need to know more about it, so here on World Whale Shark Day are some facts I’ve gleaned from around the web, in order for us to learn a little more about them together. (Credits below.)
Scientific Name: Rhincodon typus
Average Length: 18 – 40 foot and the females are larger than the males
Average Weight: 20.6 tons. That is equal to the combined weight of three average African elephants (not that there is ANYTHING average about an African Elephant!)
Average Width of Mouth: 5 foot and this consists of 300 rows of tiny teeth, each only 6mm long! With this huge mouth they can suck up to 600 cubic meters of water every hour. As they feed mostly from scooped up plankton, they have no need for larger teeth.
Swimming Speed is around 3 mph and they can dive up to around 3000 feet. Sadly, they prefer to live at around 150 feet which makes them susceptible to unsustainable fishing practices and damage from larger vessels.
Communication: Whale Sharks do not use sound for communication but instead respond to the vibrations created by sound.
Their migration habits are still a source of relatively new study and therefore not fully understood. We do know however that they gather in large groups in specific places and at specific times. Regular followers of “Moyo’s Journey” on social media will know that I am a HUGE fan of collective nouns – official and otherwise. I came across and interesting article on this with specific regard to whale sharks: A constellation of whale sharks.
And that leads smoothly to their skin – hard and scaly, it can be up to 4” thick. Interestingly, like many animals, their pattern is utterly unique to each animal and an obvious reason for the choice of informal collective noun.
As with so many of Friends of Moyo, we need to honor these gentle beasts more.
Mermaids – raise your glasses for Whale Shark Day.