It is well disputed that whale sharks are huge. Adult mammals are eight or nine meters (approximately 28 feet) long, and they are pale in comparison to some of your favorite marine life forms. But for almost a decade, the gender battle has been going on: who is bigger, male or female?
According to a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science On Wednesday, a decade-long analysis confirmed that the female rat shark rules as the largest fish in the ocean – surpassing the males. The breast reaches 14 meters (about 46 feet).
Mark Whale, a fish biologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the first author of the paper, noted that some whales have grown up to 18 meters (59 feet) long.
“It’s just too big – about the size of a bandy bus on a city street.” He said. “But even though they’re big, they’re growing very slowly. It’s only 20 centimeters or 30 centimeters a year.”
Due to the slow growth, the team tracked 54 individual wheel sharks over a 10-year period, recording more than 1,000 measurements with stereo-video cameras.
“These are actually two cameras mounted on a frame that you push underwater,” said Brett Taylor, an Australian marine scientist and co-author of the study.
“It works just like our vision – so you can calibrate two video recordings and get a very accurate measure of the shark,” Taylor said.
The team also found that the increased size of the female whale shark could be beneficial when it comes to producing loads. Only one pregnant whale shark has ever been documented, but unlike most sharks that are between two and 12, the whale shark is kept up to 300.
Research can also have implications for survival efforts. Whale sharks have been listed as endangered species since 2016. Given their long-term growth, whale sharks targeted by fishermen could cause further declines in animal populations.
“If you’re a very slow-growing animal and it takes you 30 years or more to reach maturity, your breed would be much more likely to be destroyed before it has a chance,” Meekon said. Is, “said Mikan.
“And that’s a real concern for whale sharks.”