Summary of Large and a few Small Whale Shark Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828

For whale shark littters use this link. For whale shark bibliography (needs an update) use this link.

Photo/Date Reference Sex TL (m) W (kg) PCL (m) Comments
The condition factor (CF) = Mass (kg)/TL(m)^3 is a good indicator to catch outliers w.r.t. mass or total length. From the mass-length equation (M = 12.10 * TL^2.862) reported by Hsu et al (2014) the condition factors for TL = 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 10, 15 m are 12.1, 10.7, 9.7, 9.2, 8.8, 8.3, respectively.
  Rowat and Brooks (2012)   0.46-0.94
Size at birth
    "Probably the most interesting aspect re growth and neonatals is in the Reproduction & Life history section in Rowat & Brooks 2012: a much larger size range for embryos and neonates with an embryo with yolk sac attached of 94 cmTL and full term neonates with vitelline scars of only 46 cm TL. So likely a much broader range of birth sizes than originally thought from the Joung paper."
  Wolfson (1983)   0.55 - 0.93     Wolfson (1983) described seven free-ranging neonate specimens (55–93 cm TL)
  Rowat et al. (2007)   0.586 - <3     "The finding of neonatal whale sharks from Northern Indian Ocean waters off of Pakistan and Bangladesh and the description of several very small whale sharks from around Seychelles during the last few years are reported."
  Hsu et al (2014)   1.60 - 9.88

CF ~ 10.7 - 8.8

 

92 specimens comprising 43 males (2.68–9.88 m total length [TL]), 30 females (1.60–7.02 m TL), and 19 unsexed individuals (2.83–6.67 m TL) . Using data reported in another study for 50% size at maturity for males (8.1 m TL), and the largest immature and smallest mature females (8.7 and 9.6 m TL, respectively) in the Indo-Pacific, these TLs converted to ages at maturity of 17 years for males and 19–22 years for females. The longevity was calculated to be 80.4 years. The two-parameter von Bertalanffy growth function provided the best fit without significant differences between sexes. Growth parameters were calculated for both sexes as Loo = 16.80 m TL, k = 0.037 year-1; annual band pair formation would modify these parameters to Loo =15.34 m TL, k 1⁄4 0.021 year-1. My review of Hsu et al (2014) w.r.t. growth analysis.

Oct 17, 2015 Grant Walker email; <grant.s.walk@gmail.com>   ~4.6 (15 ft)    

From Grant Walker: I was spearfishing off the middle islet of Anacapa Island on 10/17/15 when I observed a small 15ft whale shark come out of the blue and then hug the coast off the point that I was off of. I swam within 10ft of it for about 10 seconds before it out swam me heading west. Water temp was 73F degrees. Is there a scientist currently studying whale sharks off of Mexico/California? I know that an encounter this far north is extremely rare so I wanted to provide that info to the correct person. Please advise.

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
CF = 9.7-7.0
  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. .....Link to complete abstract.
Rt_images/Rt27092003.jpg
27 Sep 2003
Victor Lin p.c.   5.2
1000
CF = 7.1
  Wu-ki Port, Taiwan.
Rt_images/malawhale.jpg
5 Feb 2005
Victor Lin p.c.   ~5-6? 1500
CF ~9.0
  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.
Rt_images/shark_380.jpg
5 June 2007
Richard Lord posted URL   ~6 ~3000
CF ~ 13.9
  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.
http://www.channel4.com/news/watchlisten/gallery/gallery.jsp?id=262603&image=2

Rt_images/Rt2870kg22112001.jpg
22 Nov 2001

Victor Lin p.c.   est. 6.75 2870
CF = 9.3
  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

CF = 12.7

  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  

7.30

 

1959
McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963) F 9.8 (32 ft) 5000
CF = 5.3
  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.
Rt_images/8.5m8.5t.jpg
14 Sep 2007
Victor Lin p.c.   8.5? 8500
CF ~ 13.8
  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).
Rt_images/10000kgplus2.jpg
22 Sep 2005
Victor Lin p.c.   10.8 14400
CF = 11.4
  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 measured and weeighed: 10.8 m and 14400 kg.
Rt_images/Rt10360kg10042001.jpg
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.
Rt_images/Rt16000kg15052002.jpg
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
10.6?
16000
CF = 16
  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
CF = 8.0

  Caught off Taiwan.
< 1986 Karbhari and Josekutty (1986)   12     Colman (1997), same as below?
Rt_images/KnightsKey1912.jpg
1912; Knights Key, Florida
McCormick, Allen, and Young (1963)   ~12 (near 40 ft)

12000-13500
Cf ~ 7.4

 

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
CF = 6.9
  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."
Rt_images/WhaleSharkSitS02.jpg
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
CF ~ 4.3
 

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).

Rt_images/DSCN2251.JPG
30 March, 1994
Victor Lin, pers. comm.   assuming CF=8, TL~16.5 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."

  McClain et al. (2015)   18.8    

"Based on this evidence, we conclude that the 18.8 m measurement is the most reliable and accurately measured specimen and thus represents the current largest known R. typus."

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


Created April 2002; updated January 2015. Back to previous page
Please send comments or corrections to henry@elasmollet.org