Whale shark swimming, showing gills and fin

Whale shark swimming, showing gills and fin

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Credit: DR GEORGE GORNACZ/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Whale shark. Whale shark, Rhincodon typus, showing a fin (bottom left) and breathing-gills (dark slits at upper centre). Also visible are the longitudinal ridges on its back and the skin patterning characteristic of this species. The whale shark lives in tropical surface waters and is the world's largest fish, growing up to 15 metres long and weighing up to 18 tonnes. It feeds on plankton and small fish, straining seawater with a cartilage sieve before passing it out through the gills. The species has exceptionally large gills for a shark. The whale shark is placid and not dangerous to humans. Photographed near Ningaloo Reef, Australia.

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Keywords: animal, cartilaginous fish, filter feeder, fish, nature, plankton feeder, rhinocodon typus, shark, type, whale, whale shark, wildlife, zoology

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