Nature

Are Whale Sharks Now the World’s Largest Omnivores?

You know, whale sharks are the biggest shark species in the world. And now scientists have found that giant sharks are even more than bigger than we have seen. According to new studies, whale sharks are the biggest omnivore on Earth even researchers were stunned when they analyzed the whale shark biopsy samples that has lots of plant and krill material.

However, the researchers have discovered by analyzing the skin samples of the whale shark, whose scientific name is Rhincodon typus which was collected from the western Australia Ningaloo reef. These gargantuan sharks are the largest fish in the sea ever present, weighing up to 40 tons and can grow up to 40 feet or 12 meters which is an average measurement. Even studies show that these sharks’ mouth is wide to gulp in roughly 600 cubic meters of water every hour.

Are Whale Sharks Now the World’s Largest Omnivores
Are Whale Sharks Now the World’s Largest Omnivores

These whale sharks have historically been observed eating krill but a new study shows that has allowed scientists to rethink what sustains the superspecies, a fish biologist said, they have seen them coming to Ningaloo and also have seen them feeding on krill. However, the scientists further analyzed the food sources like plankton and large seaweed to find amino and fatty acids that might match what was present in the skin samples collected from whale sharks. As they are very large, it shows that they have started to utilize sargassum, seaweed, meanwhile common Australian reefs as food. With time, the change they have accepted and adapted by the body so now sharks can digest the seaweed and even the algae also they are ingesting into their mouth.

Well, the whale sharks at Ningaloo reef were rich in arachidonic acid, which is an organic molecule that is found in brown algae called sargassum the shark cannot make this molecule themselves so they digest the algae. But that doesn’t mean that whale sharks are full true omnivores. As whale sharks can eat lots of other things as they are targeting to eat.

As per previous research, some scientists and researchers have found plant nutrients in the skin of whale sharks off the coast of Japan. Well, no one can say for certain, that whale sharks specifically seek out sargassum, the amount they eat isn’t incidental either. Plants are a very large part of the shark’s diet, it’s so large. Whale sharks and zooplankton depend on the marine food chain.

Also Read: Manatee’s Cousins Have Vanished from the Ocean

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