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Whale Sharks

(Rhincodontidae)

Zebra Sharks Mobular Rays

The largest known fish species, the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark, the only member of the family Rhincodontidae.

The whale shark is found in open waters of the tropical seas and oceans, occasionally visiting the more shallow reef areas around Koh Lanta.

1 species found on this page.

Whale Shark

Rhincodon typus

Whale Sharks are dark grey with a white belly. Their skin is marked with pale grey or white spots and stripes which are unique to each individual.

Whale sharks have five large pairs of gills, a blunt snout, and very large mouths located at the front of the head, rather than on the underside of the head like many other sharks.

Short barbels protrude from the nostrils, common in many carpet shark species.

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) @ Koh Haa

Rhincodon typus @ Koh Haa

The eyes are small, located just behind the mouth at the front corners of the head.

There are three prominent ridges along the sides, starting above and behind the head, and ending at the caudal peduncle (the narrow part of a fish's body to which the tail fin is attached).

Researchers have found whale sharks spend most of their time in deep water, occasionally rising to the surface to scoop up clouds of plankton, small fish and squid and whatever else happens to be their way.

Whale sharks have also been observed travelling great distances to satisfy their enormous appetites.

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) @ Hin Muang

Whale Shark @ Hin Muang

Females give birth to live young around 40 to 60 cm long, however humans have never observed this process in the wild. In 1996 a captured female was found to be pregnant with 300 pups.

The birthing locations, and areas where the young spend their first few months of life remain unknown, possibly occurring in the deeper depths of the oceans.

Reaching sexual maturity at around 30 years, whale sharks are estimated to have a lifespan of between 70 and 100 years.

These gentle giants are curious around divers, but scared off by boats, excessive noise and people trying to get too close to them.

Over the years, we have seen more whale sharks around the Koh Haa Yai islands than at any other dive site.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Whale Sharks

Spot Whale Sharks around Koh Lanta on one of our high season dive and snorkel trips.

Join our speedboat trips to some of the best dive sites in Thailand and enjoy small groups, great personal service and short journey times on our fast boats.

Not yet a diver? Discover a whole new world with our Discover Scuba Diving introduction experience, or get your PADI with us here on Koh Lanta.

If you're already a certified diver, take your diving knowledge and skills to the next level with the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.

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