The 5 Biggest Sharks in the Pacific Ocean

Written by Megan Martin
Published: August 17, 2022
© Oleg Znamenskiy/Shutterstock.com
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There are over 500 species of shark in the world, and many call the Pacific Ocean home. The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the five oceans, both in size and depth. This means that it’s capable of sporting some supersized species – including some of the largest sharks.

Interested in learning more about the biggest sharks in the Pacific Ocean? Keep reading to meet five!

1. Whale Shark

Whale Shark
Whale sharks are the largest sharks in the entire world!

©iStock.com/Velvetfish

The whale shark isn’t just the biggest shark in the Pacific Ocean – it is the largest shark in the entire world! On average, it can grow to be anywhere from 18 to 40 feet long. However, the largest whale shark ever recorded sized in at 61.7 feet long! That’s the same length as a semi-truck.

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Despite being such a large size, whale sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean. At first, they were believed to only eat plankton. However, a 2021 study found that they may also eat certain types of schooling fish. As a result, the name “whale” shark comes from more than just their docile behavior; it also comes from their diet!

Due to their size and other key factors, it can be difficult to keep whale sharks in captivity. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dream of seeing one in the flesh! There are five aquariums with whale sharks in the world. Although most of these are found in Asia, specifically Japan, there is one aquarium in the United States with whale sharks: the Georgia Aquarium.

Located in the state capital of Atlanta, Georgia, the Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the entire country. As of writing, you can find not one, not two, but four spotted whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.

2. Basking Shark

Basking Shark
The basking shark is the second biggest shark in the Pacific Ocean.

©Hermes / Creative Commons

Basking sharks are a common sight in the oceans of the world. They also happen to be one of the biggest sharks in the Pacific Ocean. They can be found in coastal waters closer to land as well as in the deep ocean. At their longest, they can reach sizes up to 50 feet long.

While it may come as a surprise, the basking shark, like the whale shark, isn’t out hunting food in the way you may think of when it comes to sharks. Instead, basking sharks swim around with their mouths open in order to catch plankton or any other small organisms. This includes small crustaceans, larvae, and even fish eggs! As they swim, the water filters through their gilt slits and leaves the body.

Although the basking shark may be thriving in certain areas of the world, its Atlantic Ocean population is suffering. Scientists have estimated that there are only around 10,000 basking sharks left here. This is because of overhunting as well as accidents with boats and fishing nets. In the Canadian Pacific, these issues have caused the basking shark to be labeled as endangered.

3. Megamouth Shark

Biggest Shark: Megamouth
The megamouth shark is a rare sight.

©Opencage / Creative Commons – License

For a long time, it was up for debate whether or not the megamouth shark even existed. This is because, despite being one of the largest sharks in the Pacific Ocean, it is a deep-water shark. The very first megamouth shark wasn’t caught until November 15, 1976, when the 14.7-foot-long specimen was discovered in waters over 15,000 feet deep off the coast of Hawaii.

If you thought that the megamouth shark was similar to the basking shark and the whale shark, then you’ve thought correctly. The megamouth shark is actually related to them, though it is the smallest of the three supersized species. In fact, even the largest megamouth sharks, which can be around 25 feet long, are half the size of the basking shark.

In the nearly 50 years since the megamouth shark’s discovery, less than 100 individuals have been observed in the wild. This can make it difficult to know specific details about these sharks, such as their reproduction. What we do know, however, is just like their cousins the basking shark and the whale shark, the megamouth shark eats small organisms by filtering them into their mouths. However, they do have some small teeth, although they don’t seem to have much – if any – use in the daily life of a megamouth shark.

4. Tiger Shark

Tiger shark swimming on reef.
Tiger sharks have unique curved teeth that have helped them grow into some of the biggest sharks around.

©le bouil baptiste/Shutterstock.com

The tiger shark gets its name from the unique stripping pattern on its back. However, that’s not the only thing that sets them apart. They’re also one of the biggest sharks in the Pacific Ocean!

The largest tiger shark ever recorded was caught in the Pacific Ocean as well. In fact, it was caught off the coast of Australia in 2004, weighing in at 1,785 pounds. However, in 2018, the world was introduced to Kamaki.

Kamaki is a tiger shark that Kori Garza, a marine biologist, met during a research trip in 2018. She’s the largest tiger shark by far. Typically, tiger sharks reach sizes of up to 12 feet long. Previously, the largest ever was 15 feet long. Kamaki, however, is estimated to be a whopping 18 feet long. That’s the same as the width of a double-car garage!

It’s estimated, however, that tiger sharks can get even bigger, growing up to around 25 feet.

5. Great White Shark

What Do Great White Sharks Eat?
Great white sharks eat seals, sea lions, dolphins, and fish, among other animals.

©iStock.com/atese

While the great white shark isn’t the biggest shark in the Pacific Ocean, it’s probably one of the most well-known. Although it is most common in the Atlantic Ocean, there are several populations that call the waters of the Pacific Ocean home.

The great white shark can grow to be up to around 20 feet long – just a few feet behind the tiger shark and megamouth shark. The largest ever recorded is a female named deep-blue, who hits 20 feet almost exactly and weighs around 4,500 pounds.

Summary

RankSharkSize
1Whale SharkOver 55 feet
2Basking Shark50 feet
3Megamouth Shark25 feet
4Tiger Shark25 feet
5Great White Shark20 feet
Top five biggest sharks in the Pacific Ocean


The Featured Image

A big Bronze Whaler Shark on the beach. A tag and release shark fishing is popular in Namibia.
A big Bronze Whaler Shark on the beach. A tag and release shark fishing is popular in Namibia.
© Oleg Znamenskiy/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to write creative fiction, watch documentaries, and explore nature.

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