When you are as big as a whale shark, a lot of things in the ocean look like food – including snorkelers! In this hilarious footage, we see a swimmer trying to persuade a determined whale shark that he is not a snack whilst his mates look on and capture the whole encounter on video.
Whale sharks are massive – the largest fish in the oceans actually! They can grow to around 60 feet in length and weigh tens of thousands of pounds. This is quite a frightening thing to find in the ocean but it is their home after all!
In the footage, we get a close-up view of this shark’s amazing mouth – although the snorkeler gets an even closer view and that is probably why he begins to panic. The mouth can stretch as far as five feet wide. They also have a huge number of teeth – which is also worrying – but they are not for biting. It is thought that they are merely left over from when their ancestors used them for catching prey.
These days, whale sharks use filter pads inside their mouths to filter out food as water passes through their mouths. This is mainly plankton, algae, and krill. Then, as more water comes into their mouth, it pushes the food into their throat and to the stomach.
This footage was captured in the Berau province of East Borneo but whale sharks can be found in many tropical and temperate waters. They do not like the cold and are hardly ever found in water with a temperature less than 70 degrees F. Their ideal temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees F. They like to hang out in shallow waters which is why they come into contact with snorkelers. They love coral atolls and reefs which are also popular snorkeling and diving sites for humans. Sadly, their numbers are declining and they are an endangered species.
This particular snorkeler seems to have a love-hate relationship with this whale shark! At the start, he is confidently posing next to it but as the shark shows more interest in him, he is clearly terrified. However, in the end, he sees the funny side as the shark is coaxed away by some tasty fish pieces. So, was this snorkeler ever in any real danger?
No, he was not. Their sheer size can be intimidating but these are the “nice guys” of the shark family and they do not attack humans. You can often see many swimmers alongside them in the sea and some even hitch a ride. However, it would be sensible to stay away from that enormous mouth. In theory, it would be big enough to fit a human inside!
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