Whale Shark Body Parts

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The first of the whale shark body parts is its teeth. The whale shark has thousands of tiny teeth inside its mouth - sometimes up to 4,000. These teeth are about the size of the tip of a match-stick. For the figures people that is about 0.3cm or an 1/8 of an inch.

The teeth are arranged in the mouth in 300 rows. Obviously these teeth are not big enough to be used to eat but they are big enough to help them catch and eat. In fact it is a bit of a mystery why whale sharks even have teeth. The teeth are similar to what you will find on a file or rasp.

With all of these teeth another important whale shark body part is its mouth. It has a huge mouth which can be up to 2 metres wide. The mouth is at the very front of its head (not on the underside of the head like in most sharks). The head needs to be big to accommodate this huge mouth. It has a wide, flat head, a rounded snout and small eyes. Other whale shark body parts include 5 very large gill slits, 2 dorsal fins (on its back) and 2 pectoral fins (on its sides). The first dorsal fin is much larger than the second dorsal fin, and set rearward on the body. Its tail has a top fin much larger than the lower fin. These are called lobed caudal fins and are semi-lunate in adults.

Whale sharks catch their food (plankton and small fish and squid), by swimming with their mouth open. As the whale shark swims, water and small animals go into the whale shark's mouth. The water leaves the whale shark through its gill slits, trapping food in the gill rakers. These are also whale shark body parts.

Whale sharks have five gill slits on each side of their head. Gill rakers strain the good stuff out of all this water the whale sharks takes into its mouth and use the good parts for food.

Whale sharks breathe with gills. Gills are used to get oxygen from the water and this helps the whale sharks breathe.

This is one of five pages relating to Whale Sharks.

The other pages are:

If you come on our 11 Day Adventure Tour we can organise for you to go on a whale shark tour where you get to actually swim with these magnificent creatures.