Don’t be fooled by the “whale” in this animal’s common name: that’s a nod to the size of this species of shark. Sharks are not mammals, like whales, but are a group of fishes. Whale sharks, which can grow to more than 40 feet in length, are the world’s largest living fish.
Like various species of baleen whales, whale sharks are filter feeders. They bob up and down to pump prey-filled water over their gills or swim with their wide mouths agape. Despite their name, they are so gentle that snorkelers seek them out to swim alongside them.