International Whale Shark Day is celebrated on August 30 to draw attention to these amazing creatures of nature and to preserve their species. This fish is the largest shark species on the planet, growing as much as 60 feet from birth. The whale shark is known for its slowness and fluidity of movement. It generally prefers shallow waters, but is also found in waters up to 3000 feet deep.
Because of these factors, whale sharks are very easy to catch. Fishing is done for meat and fins. The whale shark market has led to a reduction in the fish population by at least 50%. This is an alarming situation and the giant is now listed as an endangered species.
Whale Shark Day was first celebrated in 2008 at an international conference for the species on Holbox Island. The conference brought together 40 ocean experts, activists and scientists concerned about declining whale shark populations.
Although whale sharks have existed for over 240-260 million years, the first of the species was first discovered off the coast of South Africa only in the 1820s. Dr. Andrew Smith rightly called this fish the largest shark that ever existed on earth. Whale sharks are not known to be aggressive, although their sheer size looks intimidating. At birth, they do not exceed 16-24 inches, grow up to 25 years, and often reach 46-60 feet in length. They have 300 rows of 3000 teeth that are only 0,2 inches long! Whale sharks weighing about 12 tons eat plankton, squid and fish. Their appetite is serious, and their mouth works like a huge filter.
How to celebrate
Celebrate Whale Shark Day in an interesting and useful way:
- Learn more about these amazing creations of nature.
- Stop using plastic around beaches. Plastic bottles and bags, getting into the stomach of sharks or other marine animals, lead to their illness and even death.
- Tell your friends about whale sharks on social media, post pictures of them, draw attention to their endangered species, and warn everyone not to throw away plastic on the beaches. Use the hashtag #InternationalWhaleSharkDay.
When is International Whale Shark Day celebrated in 2022?
International Whale Shark Day is observed on August 30 each year.