The Whale Shark

This passage is about the whale shark.

Lexile Level: 1150L

Categories: Animals & Nature


The largest fish in the world is the whale shark. This gigantic ocean creature can grow up to fifty feet long and weigh more than thirty thousand pounds. Because its skeleton is composed entirely of cartilage and its skin is leathery and without scales, scientists classify this fish as a species of shark. People call it a "whale" shark because of its massive size, not because it is related to the whale. Despite its size, however, the whale shark does not pose a danger to most other species, including humans. Whale sharks feed on microscopic organisms called plankton. The whale shark uses its massive mouth to scoop up the tiny creatures, which are then strained out through the gills. Swimming with its mouth open, however, makes it difficult to see. To compensate for the obstructed view, the whale shark has sensors running along the length of its body that it uses to help navigate through the water.


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