Whale Shark Shark Bites


Whale Shark

Steve Backshall learns about sharks. Steve reveals the surprising diet of the largest fish in the world, the whale shark.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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Self-confessed shark obsessed.

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This is Shark Bites.

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Meet the most colossal shark of all - the mighty whale shark.

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Not only is this the biggest shark,

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but the biggest fish in the whole world.

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Reaching record lengths of over 18 metres, which is

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longer than a double-decker bus,

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they can weigh in at a mighty 30 tonnes.

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So, how so they satisfy their equally astronomic appetites?

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Mozambique on the east coast of Africa is the perfect

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place to find them.

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Whale shark.

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Wow, look at the size of that! Huge!

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-Right, we looking good?

-OK, I reckon. Steve in.

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Is there anything more majestic in the world's oceans?

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And just as I was revelling in its beauty,

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it put on a spectacular show.

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HE LAUGHS

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He's feeding!

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When he's eating like this, you can see that this is actually a hunter.

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But what's on the menu may well surprise you.

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This gigantic creature consumes tens of thousands of tiny,

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microscopic plankton.

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Minute plants and animals that float in the water,

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but are hardly visible to the eye.

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For an animal of this size,

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constantly chasing shoals of feisty fish would use far too much energy.

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So instead, these colossal creatures cruise around, making the most

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of this super-abundant food supply with their mammoth mouths.

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Whale sharks are what are known as filter feeders.

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Water passes into their enormous mouths

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before heading over 20 filtering pads

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which separate their plankton prey from the water.

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The water continues down and out through the gills,

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while the heavier plankton concentrates into a big ball

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and is swallowed down into the stomach.

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And this plankton soup makes the perfect shark supper.

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You know, it's such a huge creature, it's one of the wonders

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of nature that all the things it feeds on are so tiny.

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The whale shark, with its surprising supper, its mega mouth and

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gargantuan size is, without doubt, the most colossal shark of all.

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Steve Backshall meets the most colossal shark in our seas. Measuring up to a record 18 metres, the whale shark is not only the largest shark, but the largest fish in the world. Steve dives with this gargantuan shark off the coast of Mozambique in Africa and reveals their somewhat surprising diet, before heading into his shark lab to get under their skin and reveal how they manage to filter their food from the water.