The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is generally regarded to be the World's Largest Living Fish, having been reliably reported to reach lengths of at least 16 metres (55 feet), and reputed to reach as long as 18 metres (60 feet).
However, the largest Whale Shark ever captured measured some 12.6 metres in length and was harpooned off Baba Island (near Karachi, Pakistan) in November 1949. The girth (distance around the thickest part of the body) of this specimen measured some 7 metres (23 feet) and the whole shark was estimated to weigh about 15 tonnes (15.5 tons).
But the Whale Shark is a placid plankton-grazer. Since considerable fame is often attached to capturing the largest actively predaceous shark, it is much, much more difficult to separate actual measurements from wishful-thinking, guesstimates, and outright exaggerations.
The largest predatory shark is the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias), said to reach lengths of over 9 metres (30 feet). Until very recently, the largest scientifically-accepted Great White was a 7-metre (23-foot) long specimen captured off Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, in April 1987. Unfortunately, later investigation revealed that its length was exaggerated by about 25%.
A reputedly comparably-sized Great White captured off Kangaroo Island, South Australia, in April 1987 remains the largest predatory shark reliably reported, but since only the head and pectoral fins were retained by the fisherman who caught it, scientific verification of its actual length could not be made. The next-largest Great White on record in the scientific literature is a 6.4-metre specimen harpooned off Cuba in May 1945, but this measurement, too, has been called into question.
There is a lot of speculation about the largest great white shark ever caught. Most reports that are available list three sharks ranging in size from 21.3 feet, 23.3 feet to an astounding 37.6 feet.
Each of the three sharks where caught in different locations with thousand of miles of ocean spanning between them.
And at that time each shark was believed to be the largest unfortunately over the course of time and the development of special forensic tools their sizes continued to grow smaller.Each of these three sharks and their captures offer an extraordinary story of man (men) verse beast on the open ocean waters.
Each of these three sharks and their captures offer an extraordinary story of man (men) verse beast on the open ocean waters. Which the thought alone can invoke tales of horror considering the great white shark is the almighty of the sea. With the average size of an adult great white shark measuring 13 to 16 feet in length.
The Port Fairy Shark
This great white shark was the first known great white to be captured and thought to be the largest for several years. It was captured in the mid 1870's in Australia. The shark was originally measured to be 36 feet (11 meters) long. This shark held the record for several decades until forensic technology was able to determine that the shark was actually only 17 feet long.
Unfortunately the actual capture of the shark has been lost in all the speculation over the last 150 years but I'm sure the fishermen who captured the great white beast received both the thrill and scare of a lifetime.
The jaw of this shark is on display in the British Museum of Natural History and is certainly a sight to see.
The Cuban Shark
The second largest recorded great white ever caught was that of a 21.3 (6.4 meters) caught in 1945 of the Gulf of Mexico. Six fishermen on their daily hunt for fish encountered this great white approximately 3 miles from shore while sailing in their 14-foot wooden "boat", they thought it was odd that they hadn't had a single bite in the few hours they were at sea when they soon discovered the reason why. A great white that was patrolling the area had scared all the other fish away. The six fishermen who had experience shark fishing were not only excited by this opportunity but a little scared to say the least as this shark was larger than the wooden boat that they were in.
|They used a tuna they had caught the day before as bait and tied a bunch of line together they allowed the shark to pull them for several miles until it got tired or so they thought, the shark then attacked the boat not once buy twice sending pieces of the boat into the water.|
However as amazing as this shark tale is more recently in 1983 the largest great white ever caught (to date) was caught off the shore of Canada's Prince Edward Island. It measured 20.3 feet (6.1 meters) in length, it was caught by a lone fishermen, David Mckendrick. There is little to no information available on the capture.
Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to determine if some of the earlier catches such as the reported Port Fairy shark who was measured to be 36 feet long was not actually the largest shark caught. Over time sharks shrink in size and by the time forensic tools became available it is very possible that the shark had shrunk a considerable amount.
Whale shark caught off shore, sold cheap
An eight-meter-long whale shark, weighing 3,000 kilograms, was recently caught in the sea off Zhuhai. The whale shark, which is the largest fish in the world, was caught accidentally. It was later sold at 4 yuan (50 U.S. cents) a kilogram.
Fishermen said the whale shark was dying when caught. "If the whale shark was caught alive, our boat might be pulled into the water," a Guangzhou Daily report quoted a fisherman as saying Wednesday.
An official with the city's fishery administration said the whale shark is rarely seen at the mouth of the Pearl River estuary. It is listed as a State-protected Class B animal at a conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species organized by the United Nations in 2002.
The convention took effect in 2003. "Though the species is not listed on our country's namelist of protected animals, but it was on Guangdong's namelist of protected animals and should be protected," said an aquatic expert.
The whale shark is not a whale but has a mouth up to 1.4 meters wide. It has a wide, flat head, a rounded snout, small eyes, five very large gill slits, two dorsal fins (on its back) and two pectoral fins (on its sides).
The whale shark has distinctive light-yellow markings (random stripes and dots) on its very thick dark gray skin. Its skin is up to 10 centimeters thick. Whale sharks are solitary creatures. Groups of whale sharks have rarely been seen. Whale sharks are found worldwide in the warm oceans around the equator. They are not, however, found in the Mediterranean Sea.