The bunnies have got Easter sewn up and Christmas is all about Rudolph, so it’s only fair that everyone’s favourite fish, the whale shark, gets a bite at the cherry.

Learn about International Whale Shark Day

International Whale Shark Day has been designed so that we can celebrate and increase awareness about these amazing sea-dwelling creatures. We need to protect and conserve the whale shark, as their numbers are declining. These gentle giants fascinate aquatic enthusiasts and marine biologists alike, yet it is up to us to make sure that their numbers increase and their futures are protected. This is what International Whale Shark Day is all about.

Whale sharks are incredible to look at, and even more fascinating to learn about. However, they are becoming endangered. They are actually one of the most vulnerable marine animals according to the IUCN, which is the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Some interesting facts about whale sharks

Are they sharks? Or, are they whales? A whale shark is a shark. Let’s get that cleared up first and foremost. In fact, a whale shark is the biggest living species of shark on our planet. They can grow up to 14 meters in length, as well as weighing an average of 12 ton. Despite the fact that they are so big, their teeth are very small, measuring only six millimeters in length.

One of the most fascinating facts about whale sharks is that they all have a unique pattern. The skin of a whale shark is fully unique, just like the fingerprint of a human. This gives researchers the ability to run visual analytics on a whale shark so that they can identify and track it correctly.

One of the reasons why whale sharks are so vulnerable is because they move at shallow depths, and they move slowly in the ocean. They prefer to roam seas that have around a 50-meter depth, despite the fact that they can dive up to 1,000 meters. In terms of speed, they swim at approximately five kilometers per hour. Because of this, they are highly vulnerable to getting caught in fishing nets and ship collisions. 

History of International Whale Shark Day

Started in 2012, International Whale Shark Day celebrates these gentle giants. Growing up to 14 metres long and 12 tons heavy, whale sharks have a face only a mother could love: no whale shark will ever win a beauty contest, so it’s right they’re made to feel special one day a year. However, there’s a serious purpose to the day, which aims to raise awareness of how this animal has been hunted to vulnerability for its highly prized fins and meat.

In fact, in 2016, the whale shark was reclassified by the IUCN, moving from a vulnerable species to an endangered one, which is incredibly worrying. According to some estimates, it is believed that there are only tens of thousands of these sharks life across the globe. There are a number of different reasons why whale sharks are declining. Of course, hunting has a huge role to play. However, there are also cases of whale sharks colliding with boats, as well as these sharks getting trapped in fishing gear. In some parts of Asia, products that are made from whale sharks are in very high demand. 

Of course, we cannot talk about the threat to any sort of ocean life without mentioning plastic. Waste plastics find their way into our oceans. A whale shark can easily end up ingesting plastic, and this can cause a lot of issues, as it can get lodged into the whale’s digestive tract. When this happens, the whale will usually starve to death, as it is not going to be able to eat anymore. When you take everything that has been mentioned into account, it is not hard to see why the lives of so many whale sharks are threatened and why we need to do our bit in order to protect this endangered species. 

How to celebrate International Whale Shark Day

So, why not show a little solidarity on International Whale Shark Day and celebrate our finned friends? Go coastal and try and glimpse a whale or perhaps bake a (fish)cake. Whatever you do, just don’t watch Jaws.

There are many different ways that you can observe International Whale Shark Day. For example, you could learn more about the creature and spread awareness via your online presence, whether you are active on social media or you have your own blog. It is important to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of the situation so that we can all make a collective effort to protect these animals. Coming up to the date, you will find a lot of infographics and other pieces of content that you can share with your friends, family members, and followers.

Aside from this, there are a number of charities and organizations that have been established in order to protect these whales. There are plenty of ways for you to get involved. Of course, making a donation to any sort of organization is going to be greatly appreciated, especially as most of these organizations are going to run purely on donations. You can also offer up some of your time. Why not volunteer to help at the organization and then you are going to be able to learn more about the whale shark in the process? 

Another way to help these incredible animals in honor of International Whale Shark Day is to cut down on your use of plastic and make sure that you are recycling properly. You can also raise awareness about this issue. After all, if you help in the global effort to cut down on the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans, not only are you going to be able to help whale sharks, but you will help all marine life. If you spend some time reading about the global plastic issue, you will probably be shocked by just how severe it is and how much damage it is causing. There are some truly horrible stories about marine animals that have lost their lives because of this, so take some time to spread the word that people should be cutting down on plastic and making sure they recycle items.

You can also spend some time looking up photos and videos of these amazing creatures. If you do a quick look online, you will be able to see lots of incredible photographs of whale sharks. They are truly breath-taking. You can share these photos on social media platforms as well. We are sure that the incredible appearance of the whale shark is bound to pique the interest of a few people, and you can use this as an opportunity to educate them about the amazing species.

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