Sharks are one of the most well-known creatures on the planet.
They live in practically every ocean on earth and can be found almost anywhere.
They are wrongly accused of being “man-eaters”, and this is why lots of people are so scared of them.
Whereas you’d be right to be scared of them, it is important to know that humans are not their first choice when it comes to food.
There are over 200 species of shark that are alive and exist today, but which of these sharks is the largest of them all?
In this article, we’ll be telling which shark is the largest and we’ll also tell you about some other large sharks. So let’s dive in!
How To Define A Shark?
Sharks are a type of fish that belong to the sub-fish category known as Elasmobranchii.
All fish that are a part of the Elasmobranchii family have skeletons that are made up of cartilage instead of bone and they usually have a larger quantity of fins than other fish.
Sharks are natural predators and the most deadly fish in the sea.
They have rows of razor-sharp teeth and they can smell a single drop of blood from up to a quarter of a mile away. They are designed to be the perfect killers.
Which Shark Is The Largest Shark?
So, now we know a bit more about how to define a shark, which shark is actually the largest of them all?
Well, that title is held by the incredible Whale Shark.
The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is a huge fish that can grow up to 40 feet in length and can weigh up to a staggering 20.6 tons! They have a lifespan of about 70 years and are unfortunately Endangered.
Though they are carnivores by nature, the Whale Shark actually has a rather large range of foods it will eat. Whale Sharks are especially fond of plankton.
The way Whale Sharks feed is by filter feeding. They open their exceptionally large jaws and passively scoop up and filter out whatever comes along.
In terms of appearance, the Whale Shark has flat heads and a snout that is described as “blunt”.
They have white bellies and their back and sides are usually a grayish color.
They also have rearward dorsal fins and their tails are large and dual-lobbed.
They are especially fond of warm, tropical waters and oceans.
Whale Sharks are actually a migratory species, so every spring they migrate to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia.
Though they are extremely huge creatures and can seem quite scary and intimidating, they are usually quite docile and as long as you keep a sensible distance, they can be relatively harmless overall.
You do have to be careful around Whale Sharks though and while they may be docile most of the time, it’s not recommended that you attempt to get close or swim with them!
The Largest Extinct Shark
Although Whale Sharks are the largest living shark currently on record, there was a prehistoric shark that was a lot larger.
This species of shark was known as the Megalodon.
The earliest known Megalodon fossils date back to around 20 million years ago and they dominated the prehistoric oceans for another 13 million years.
They eventually went extinct, and in relativity to us, this was around 3.6 million years ago.
They were absolutely massive as well. If you thought the Whale Shark was big, the Megalodon could reach sizes of up to 50 to 60 feet in length!
If you came across a Megaldon it would be an extremely terrifying experience.
The tooth size of the Megaladon abso0 dwarves that of a Great White Shark, which may not be as big as a Whale Shark, but it is still of a significant enough size that if you saw how small a Great White looks in comparison to a Megaladon, it would be extremely humbling.
Other Large Sharks
There is no disputing that the Whale Shark is the largest living shark on the entire planet.
But there are some other sharks that come pretty close, so let’s take a brief look at some of the other largest sharks before we wrap things up.
Great Hammerhead Shark
The Great Hammerhead Shark can reach lengths of up to 20 feet.
You will usually find them in warm bodies of water. They are unfortunately quite endangered because people hunt them for their fins.
Great White Shark
The Great White Shark is the most famous type of shark in the world.
The shark in the blockbuster film “Jaws” is a Great White. These sharks can reach lengths of up to 20 feet.
They are natural predators and usually eat things like seals, other fish, and even dolphins.
The Greenland Shark can be found in the waters of the North Atlantic. They can grow up to 24 feet in length.
Like the Whale Shark, Greenland Sharks are filter feeders and are very fond of plankton.
This shark has an incredibly long life span, with lots of people believing that they can live to be 300 years old!
The Tiger Shark is a migratory species of shark that can usually be found in tropical bodies of water.
They can grow to be about 24 feet in length. They are nocturnal eaters and will eat practically anything, including other sharks and turtles.
There is no rival for the Whale Shark when it comes to the largest shark on earth.
If the Megaladon still existed, it would be the only shark that could possibly overtake it’s spot.
Most sharks are fairly large creatures though and they absolutely dwarf humans in comparison.
If you were to come across a Whale Shark, or any of it’s cousins, you’d be sure to have a fright!
Sharks are amazing creatures that can be found all over the world.
Unfortunately, most of them are endangered, and this is also true for the Whale Shark.
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