Meet the unusual creature that some local boaties came face to face with in north Queensland this month.

Carlo Cuda and son Orlando and mates Ben Fogerty and Chris Vine got a whole lot more than they bargained for on their Great Barrier Reef fishing trip in north Queensland. A curious whale shark kept them company for more than an hour in what they described as an “awesome encounter” with a creature that, at around six metres long, was bigger than their boat!

Here’s the scoop on whale sharks

  • It’s a shark that’s the size of a whale! The whale shark is the world’s largest fish / shark. They can grow up to 12 metres long and their average size is from around 5.5 metres to 9 metres. They can weigh as much as a bus.
  • Each whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots, much like human fingerprints. Underneath, their bellies are white.
  • A mysterious migratory creature, whale sharks like warmer areas and are found in tropical waters.
  • A whale shark’s mouth is about 1.5 m wide. Inside, they have rows of over 300 teeth, but they don’t use these teeth to eat because they’re filter feeders.
  • While they are meat-loving carnivores, whale sharks do not attack humans. They are filter feeders and eat krill, crab and fish larvae, small schooling fish and jellyfish.
  • While they give birth to live young, they are not a mammal like a whale. The whale shark is ovoviparous, meaning the female produces eggs that hatch insider her. When the young are fully developed, the female gives birth to around 300 live young.
  • Whale sharks can live around 100 years.
  • Whale sharks are under threat worldwide.