"[he] began carving a large black fish, a killer whale of spruce the likes of which had never been seen before. ... he fashioned a whale of yellow cedar and when launched, [it] came to life and swam out to sea."
-- Tlingit legend of Natsilane
••• offshoot of mockingnerd's tumblr, concentrating solely on marine life.
In Kiswahili the whale shark is called “papa shillingi”, which means “shark covered in shillings”. The Kenyan legend tells that God was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish that he gave his angels handfuls of gold and silver coins to throw down from Heaven onto its back; the whale sharks swim near the surface, catching the sun on their backs, as a way of saying thank you to their maker.
The whale shark is known as “marokintana” in Madagascar, which means “many stars”.
Whale sharks are considered vulnerable by the IUCN. Although the fishing, selling, exporting and importing of whale sharks was banned in the Philippines in 1998, India in 2001, and Taiwan in 2007, hunting of the species continues.
Despite their gigantic size, whale sharks are filter feeders that mostly eat plankton, krill and small fish, and though their mouths can attain a width of 4.9 feet, their esophagus is only about the size of a US quarter.
Whale sharks are the largest fish on Earth with an average length between 18 and 33 feet, although they are known to reach lengths of 40 feet. While there are claims of whale sharks over 60 feet long, they are unconfirmed.