How does a whale shark have babies

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation BfN

The whale shark owes its name to its size; but it is not related to whales. The whale shark is a fish while whales are mammals. Whale sharks have a light belly and a gray back with white spots and stripes. This pattern is unique to each animal.

The great stranger

Whale sharks are rare and not very well researched. To date, for example, nobody knows exactly where whale sharks give birth to their young and how the small whale sharks grow up. One thing is clear: whale sharks do not lay eggs, but rather give birth to living babies. How big the little ones are when they are born and what happens afterwards has hardly been researched. Whale sharks can have offspring for the first time when they are 15 to 30 years old. If all goes well, a whale shark can live to be 100 years old.

Long walks

Whale sharks are found in all tropical seas around the world. Researchers have found that the animals make long migrations: a female, which the scientists were able to provide with a transmitter, swam across the Pacific - more than 20,000 kilometers. Why the animals take these long stretches is not yet known.

6000 liters per hour

It is known, however, that whale sharks do not hunt fish, but rather feed on microorganisms that they filter out of the water with their big mouths. Smaller fish also disappear in the giants' belly. A whale shark can run 6000 liters of water through its gills every hour. A fair amount of feed comes together.


Whale sharks are listed as "endangered" on the International Red List. This is mainly due to the fishing. This is already banned in some places, but not yet everywhere. Nature conservation organizations work to ensure that whale shark fishing is banned worldwide.