Summary of Large Whale Shark Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828

Photo/Date Reference Sex TL (m) W (kg) PCL (m) Comments
April 1828 McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)   ~4.6 (15 ft)     Harpooned in Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Native fisherman managed to get it to shore, where, luckily, Dr. Andrew Smith, a surgeon to British troops in South Africa was able to examine it, buy its skin for 6 pounds and forward it to the Museum Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

1980 to 1998

Uchida et al. (2000) AES Abstract 2 M & 14 F 3.1 to 6.3 290 to 1750   See below for complete abstract.
27 Sep 2003
Victor Lin p.c.   5.2 1000   Wu-ki Port, Taiwan.
5 Feb 2005
Victor Lin p.c.   ~5-6? 1500   A Malaysian fisherman caught a 1500kg tiger shark on Feb 5, 2005. Caught 60 miles offshore.The length of the shark is given as "more than 10 feet" which in Chinese means somewhere between 10 and 20 feet.
5 June 2007
Richard Lord posted URL   ~6 ~3000   A three-tonne shark, six-metres (19.6 feet) in length and three metres (9.8 feet) in width, is transported after being caught by fishermen on Haiyi dock of Taizhou, east China's Zhejiang province, 5 June 2007.

22 Nov 2001

Victor Lin p.c.   est. 6.75 2870   Setnet; Southern Bay, Taiwan.
Feb 1999 Duffy (2002)   7.6     Fig. 4. A 7.6 m total length whale shark feeding on anchovy (Engraulis australis) near Whale Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Two large remora (Echeneidae) are visible on the dorsal surface of the shark's head.

21 May 2003
Victor Lin p.c.   8.2
(27 ft)
7020   Caught in set-net at Seven-star Lake, Hualien Province Taiwan.
<1997 Beckley et al. (1997) M 9.05   6.95  
<1997 Beckley et al. (1997) M 9.20  



McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963) F 9.8 (32 ft) 5000   A 5-ton, 32-foot Whale shark, caught by UN fishing instructor G. S. Illugason and his crew in the Arabian Sea, is inspected by residents of Mangalore, India. It was towed ashore after an epic, 7-hour struggle.
Castro and Clark (2000) AES Abstract gave length as 12.1 m.
14 Sep 2007
Victor Lin p.c.   8.5? 8500   A big whale shark was caught off FuZou, southern China on Sep14th. It was said to be 8.5 meters long (another source says 6~7 meters) and weighed 8.5 tons.
Caudal fin; cutting through vertebrae.
5 m West of mouth of Havana, Cuba harbor McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)     9000   Was weighed piecemeal. Its total weight was ca. 9 tons. Its heart weighed 19.5 kg (43 lbs) and its liver ~ 400 kg (900 lbs).
22 Sep 2005
Victor Lin p.c.   10.8 14400   Estimated more than 10 tons and over 10 meter whale shark caught on Sep 22, 2005 at Ling Po, China.
This whale shark was later scaled 10.8 m and 14400 kg.
10 Apr 2001
Victor Lin p.c.     10360   Setnet; Big South, Taiwan.
30 March 1994 Joung et al. 1996     15220   landed in Taiwan, no other data available/collected.
15 May 2002
Victor Lin p.c.     16000   Setnet; Taidung Province, Taiwan
Photo shows upper tail lobe.
15 July 1995 Joung et al. (1996) AES Abstract F 10.0
16000   About 300 embryos were found in the uteri. 10.6 m was reported by Castro and Clark (2000) AES Abstract.
<1997 Beckley et al. (1997) M 10.26   7.80 "Thirty specimens for South Africa described by Beckeley et al. (1997) were 4 to 11 m long." (Compagno, 2001).

15 April 2002
Victor Lin p.c.   10.5 9281   Caught off Taiwan.
< 1986 Karbhari and Josekutty (1986)   12     Colman (1997), same as below?
1912; Knights Key, Florida
McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)   ~12 (near 40 ft) 12000-13500  

An enterprising promoter skinned it and stuffed it -a job that took several months- and then toured the country with it, billing it as "The Only Creature of the Kind in the World."
According to Castro and Clark (2000) AES Abstract, the 1912 Knights Key, Florida specimen often given in the literature has little or no scientific basis.
Victor Lin found the photo(s) used here on the web. One source says 38 feet long, 26594 lb and another says 45 feet, 30000 lb.

Rt_images/12m _12tons_3.jpg
25 Sep 2008
Victor Lin pers. comm.   12 12000   Caught off China on September 25, 2008. Additional photo where caudal fin is hauled away.
  Castro and Clark (2000) AES Abstract M 12.18     Male 12.18 m from Bombay, India.
11 Nov 1949 Evan Hodder pers. comm   12.65     According to Guinness Book of Records, the largest reliably recorded whale shark was an individual measuring 41ft 6in that was caught on November 11, 1949 off Baba Island, near Karachi, Pakistan.
Lower California
McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)   12.8 (42 ft)     Photograph shows William Beebe pursuing a 42-footer during a New York Zoological Society expedition in the Eastern Pacific.
< 1984 Compagno(1984)   13.7      
< 1870 Wright (1870)   14     Wright (1870); Devadoss et al. (1990); Colman (1997).
20 June 1996 Eckert & Stewart 2001 F ~15     Tagged on 20 June 1996 at Banco Gordo in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Tracked for 111 days. Traveled 2864 km at mean travel rate of 28.8 km/day.
  Compagno (2001)   15.9     "The late Margaret M. Smith showed the writer a letter describing a beach-stranded specimen from Angola, with measurements suggesting is was about 15.9 m long."
11 Feb 1905
McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)   >17.4 (not less than 57 ft)     On February 11, 1905, the Illustrated London News published this drawing based on a sketch by Capt. J. C. Robinson of the Armadale Castle. It clearly shows a Whale shark impaled on the ship's bow, but the headline called it a "Sea Serpent".
19 June 1996 Eckert & Stewart 2001 F ~18     Tagged on 19 June 1996 at Banco Gordo in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Tracked for 30 days. Traveled 207 km at mean travel rate of 18.2 km/day.
< 1925 Smith (1925)   ~18     "Then there's the inaccurately measured 18 m specimen from the Gulf of Thailand (Smith, 1925)." Steven G. Wilson (Elasmo-L posting 5 Aug. 2003).
March 1987 Chen et al. (2002) M ~20 34000  

Chen et al. (2002) reported on a whale shark landed in Taiwan (March 1987) that was 20 m long and weighed 34 t. In: Elasmobranch Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. Proceedings of the International Seminar and Workshop, Sabah, Malaysia, July 1997. Fowler, S.L., Reed, T.M. and Dipper, F.A. (Editors). Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (2002, pages x-y).

30 March, 1994
Victor Lin, pers. comm.     35800   It was landed in Anpin,Tainan county (southern Taiwan). It's the largest, at least the heaviest whale shark that Victor Lin is aware of. May 14, 1994. The newspaper clip was dated May 14, 1994.
  Compagno (2001)   21.4    

"Old sight records as well as recent tagging studies and whale shark fishers' reports suggest a maximum length of 17 to 18 m or even 21.4 m."

Photo/Date Reference Sex TL (m) W (kg) FL (m) Comments

UCHIDA, S.;TODA, M;KAMEI, Y.;TERUYA, H. Okinawa Expo Aquarium, Okinawa, 905-0206 Japan The husbandry of 16 whale sharks Rhincodon typus, from 1980 to 1998 at the Okinawa expo aquarium From 1980 to 1998 16 whale sharks, Rhincodon typus , were kept in captivity at Okinawa Expo Aquarium, Okinawa, Japan. They were captured around Okinawa Is. by set-nets the center of which is located at 26�23�N, 127�41�E from March to September. The sea water temperature of the time captured were 21.1 to 29.0�C at the depth of 20 m. Only two of 16 sharks were females and 14 were males, The mean value and range in total length and body mass were 4.8 m and 3.1 to 6.3 m, and 814 kg and 290 to 1750 kg respectively. They were kept in the Kurosio tank which is 27 m long, 12 m wide and 3.5 m deep 1,100 m3 in volume. Water parameters of the tank in mean and range were as follows : Water temperature(�C) was 24.6 and 19.8 to 29.6, ph 8.2 and 7.9 to 8.35, and salinity (o/oo) 35.79 and 33.04 to 37.36. Mean and range of survival time in the tank were 502 days and 3 to 2056 days (ca. 5y 8m). The Whale sharks were fed on Euphausia pacifica, E. superba, Sergia lucens, Loligo japonica and Spratelloides gracilis once a day 6 days week. Mean feeding rates (food quantity / body mass / week x 100) of a 3.65 m female were 11.0 % in the first year of keeping, 8.5 % in the second year and 8.0 % in the third year. Mean growth per year of this shark was 29.5 cm in total length ( survival time : 2056 days) , 4.5 m male shark 21.6 cm (1040 days) and 4.85 m male 25.5 cm (458 days) respectively. Feeding and other behaviors in tank are reported.

Created April 2002; updated October 2008. Back to previous page
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