Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. The whale shark is called the "gentle giant" of the ocean. Whale sharks can grow up to 60 feet in length. Scientists believe that whale sharks evolved 200 million years ago.
Whale sharks are docile. They are covered with white spots and they feed on plankton and other microscopic organisms of the sea.
Whale sharks are found throughout the world's tropical waters. Along the Mesoamerican Reef in Belize, whale sharks gather each season at Gladden Spit Marine Preserve to feed on larvae released by thousands of snappers and other fish. The result is a rich annual feast for whale sharks.
At Gladden Spit, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of Nature and the Belize Fisheries Department are working with local fishermen to study the gathering of reef fish that attracts the whale sharks to this site each year. The partners created a marine reserve here with guidelines for divers and other visitors. Ultimately, fishing will also be limited during this rare annual event.
For more information about them, see this whale shark profile.June 21, 2011