Celebrate International Whale Shark Day with 7 Fun Facts about Whale Sharks

Emily Deemer August 30, 2013 38

Swimming with whale sharks

In 2008, a group of over 40 whale shark experts at the International Whale Shark Conference in Isla Holbox decided that August 30th should be dedicated to celebrating whale sharks, educating people about them and promoting their conservation.  So began International Whale Shark Day.

Swimming with whale sharks is a life-changing experience, but it must be done responsibly.  Mexico’s whale shark tourism industry has grown significantly in the last several years, increasing from just a few hundred tourists annually to over 12,000 per year. This puts enormous stress on the whale shark population.  WWF Travel Program wrote a wonderful article on responsible whale shark tourism.  Check it out to learn how to swim with whale sharks responsibly.

As an ode to these gentle giants, we wanted to share 7 fun facts about whale sharks.  All facts were gathered from WWF’s whale shark page.

Whale Shark Isla Holbox

Whale Shark

Whale Shark Fact #1: Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet.

Whale Shark Fact #2: Whale sharks are in no way related to whales. Although they are sharks, they are very docile and pose no real threats to humans.

Whale Shark Isla Holbox

Whale Shark Fact #3: Whale sharks can reach up to 14m (46 feet!) in length.

Whale Shark Fact #4: Whale sharks can weigh up to 12 tons. That’s 24,000 pounds or nearly 11,000 kilos!!

Swimming with whale sharks

Whale Shark Fact #5: Whale sharks are filter feeders and sieve plankton through their gills for much of their nourishment. They also sieve squid, krill, and small fish.

Whale Shark Fact #6: Whale sharks have about 3,000 tiny teeth (less than 6mm long) but they don’t use those teeth to eat.

Swim with whale sharks

Whale Shark Fact #7: Whale sharks aren’t the fastest swimmers, reaching speeds no higher  than 5 kmph. They swim by moving  their bodies from side to side, unlike other sharks like the great white, who just use their tails to swim.

Ready to swim with whale sharks now?  Check out our tour Swimming with Mexico’s Whale Sharks and our other Mexico and Central America tours here: https://www.nathab.com/central-america/



  1. Anonymous April 21, 2021 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    wow it’s so big🤩

  2. Anonymous August 21, 2020 at 8:07 am - Reply

    I’m a fan off whale sharks

  3. Jesslyn July 9, 2020 at 12:38 am - Reply


  4. lilwhale February 12, 2019 at 11:10 am - Reply

    omgsh love whale sharks so much #bahhhh

  5. poopydoopy January 9, 2019 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    i’m doing an project and this helped alot

  6. Ricky December 1, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    whale sharks are my favorite animal

  7. leasha123 November 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    love love love love love love love love WHALE SHARKS when im older getting a tattoo of them doing a report

  8. oof September 17, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    these are my favorite sharks

  9. Natalie June 11, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

    heart whale sharks

  10. Natalie June 11, 2018 at 9:38 am - Reply

    im doing a small report on this!!!! and this is all i need 🙂

  11. Cebu Tours Whale Shark Watching & Canyoneering June 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I love whale sharks I have an obsession with them they are so cute and harmless. They don’t deserve to be killed at all because they don’t harm people whatsoever. It’s inhumane to hurt those beautiful creatures.

  12. bri May 31, 2018 at 6:59 am - Reply

    i love them too

  13. bri May 31, 2018 at 6:58 am - Reply

    I did a report on it.

  14. silent May 11, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply


  15. naranger November 29, 2016 at 6:22 am - Reply

    if you want to see whale shark just choose donsol philippines,come and swim with them.

  16. kevin November 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I LOVE WHALE SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. hoi October 24, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply


  18. Girl September 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    thankyou so much for the help this website is amazing im glad i found it now im gonna probably pass my project thankyou for the help 😉

    • Boy November 19, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Um Middle School Project unusual animal project?

  19. Ezekiel Forrester August 30, 2016 at 1:53 am - Reply

    My name is Ezekiel and I am 9 years old and I just love Whale Sharks. I have been counting down for a long time for this special day to come to celebrate Whale Sharks.
    I really hope these beautiful animals don’t become extinct!

  20. Wes August 2, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I am Captain of a tuna fishing boat and we caught 2 in our net one day. The big one looked to be about 11 – 13 meters long, the other 10 After some work, we managed to free them from the seine and send them on their merry way. Impressive creatures, and supremely docile. It felt good to see them swim away.

    • Nemo March 2, 2018 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Thankyou these are such majestic beautiful creatures and they need our help so for you to save two you must feel so humbled and restores some faith in humanity ❤️👍

  21. Abby July 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I love whale sharks I have an obsession with them they are so cute and harmless. They don’t deserve to be killed at all because they don’t harm people whatsoever. Go whale sharks!!

  22. brie May 24, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    i love this website i am doing a project about it and it helped me so much with it !!!!

  23. BloodbornKiller May 24, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    well… this helped some but there could be a video of a whale shark because I haven’t found any videos of a whale shark yet and I really need one.

  24. Bleh May 4, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

    This helped me so much with my science fair project. Thank-you so much for this website. ???

  25. CALUM May 3, 2016 at 3:20 am - Reply


  26. blah April 27, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

    thanks for helping me

  27. denny February 25, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply


  28. harper February 23, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply


  29. Adam February 16, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I saw 3 whale sharks in 1 tank at the Georgia aquarium. (The biggest aquarium in the world)

  30. greg December 4, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

    ive seen them rea life before thyer so beautiful

  31. greg December 4, 2015 at 9:55 am - Reply

    i love whale sharks theyre awsome

  32. Samantha Jasik November 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    thanks this went on my school report!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Jabnel November 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    I am researching anout Whale Shark s and this helps

  34. Murtaza October 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Biggest animal in the ocean

  35. helena June 10, 2015 at 8:56 am - Reply


  36. brook246891 March 13, 2015 at 11:45 am - Reply

    i love whale sharks

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