The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) 
… is the largest living species of fish, with individuals reaching lengths of 41 feet (12.5 m) or more. Though fearsome in size, Whale Sharks are gentle giants. They feed on plankton and small fish, and are generally quite tame and docile around divers. 
Unlike dolphins and whales, which give birth to a single large baby, Whale Sharks are ovoviviparous - they produce up to a few hundred eggs, which the mother incubates within her body. They are fertilized slowly using stored sperm, and babies are birthed with regularity rather than in one large event. When born, young Whale Sharks are dwarfed by their mother, measuring only 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm) long. Individuals take a long time to reach sexual maturity, first starting to breed around 30 years old, but may live to ages of 70 or more years. 
They inhabit tropical and sub-tropical oceans worldwide; on North America’s coasts, they are primarily found off California in the Pacific, and sometimes as far north as New York in the Atlantic.
photo by Zac Wolf, borrowed from Wikimedia
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

… is the largest living species of fish, with individuals reaching lengths of 41 feet (12.5 m) or more. Though fearsome in size, Whale Sharks are gentle giants. They feed on plankton and small fish, and are generally quite tame and docile around divers.

Unlike dolphins and whales, which give birth to a single large baby, Whale Sharks are ovoviviparous - they produce up to a few hundred eggs, which the mother incubates within her body. They are fertilized slowly using stored sperm, and babies are birthed with regularity rather than in one large event. When born, young Whale Sharks are dwarfed by their mother, measuring only 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm) long. Individuals take a long time to reach sexual maturity, first starting to breed around 30 years old, but may live to ages of 70 or more years.

They inhabit tropical and sub-tropical oceans worldwide; on North America’s coasts, they are primarily found off California in the Pacific, and sometimes as far north as New York in the Atlantic.

photo by Zac Wolf, borrowed from Wikimedia

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Bizarre Blue Shark Nursery Found in the North Atlantic

Rather than emerging in protected coves, baby blue sharks spend their first years in a big patch of open ocean

by Rachel Nuwer

The scientists trapped 37 blue sharks ranging in age from young juveniles to adults and outfitted them with satellite transmitters. They released the sharks and then waited for the data to arrive. As months rolled into years, an interesting pattern emerged.
Within the first two years of life, the researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE, the sharks spent most of their time in a patch of the North Atlantic.
Most shark species establish nurseries in protected bays or other sheltering areas. The notion that blue sharks grow up completely out in the open suggests that protection from predators is not a motivating factor. But figuring out what advantages, if any, that particular spot provides will require further study…
images: Photos by Nuno Sa/Nature Picture Library/Corbis and Mark Conlin/NMFS, graphic from Vandeperre et al., PLOS ONE
lostbeasts

strangebiology:

Paleontologists found this sweet whorl of teeth called a Helicoprion, but really didn’t know how it might have been situated in a fish’s mouth. 

There were many theories postulated about how the teeth fit in the animal’s mouth (fourth image). When another specimen was found, it was determined that the owner of this strange jaw (not a shark, but a ratfish) had no upper teeth at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most metal fish.

(via Laelaps/National Geographic) Art by Ray Troll.

How Tiger Sharks Affect Shark Bay’s Eco-System

For the last two decades, Michael Heithaus has been studying how tiger sharks affect one particular ecosystem – Shark Bay, Australia, one of the world’s most pristine seagrass ecosystems. The Florida International University biologist explains how his team studies these top predators and their prey, and why tiger sharks are so important to the health of Shark Bay.

(via: National Science Foundation)

scientificillustration
alexa-rossi:

Helicoprion
I like prehistoric sharks a lot; they come in all kinds of weird shapes so you can re-imagine them as you like, practically. This one I like because the unusual whorl of teeth that even to this day hasn’t been properly placed within this shark’s anatomy.
This is my reconstruction of Helicoprion bessonovi.

alexa-rossi:

Helicoprion

I like prehistoric sharks a lot; they come in all kinds of weird shapes so you can re-imagine them as you like, practically. This one I like because the unusual whorl of teeth that even to this day hasn’t been properly placed within this shark’s anatomy.

This is my reconstruction of Helicoprion bessonovi.

ichthyologist
ichthyologist:

Manta Rays at Cleaning Station
Due to their large size, manta rays are easy hosts for parasites. The rays have been observed to visit cleaning stations in coral reefs. These open areas are inhabited by a number of smaller fish species which pick parasites off of the ray’s body and gill slits. This relationship is an example of mutualistic symbiosis as the cleaners get an easy meal while the mantas get their parasites removed.
Boris Bialek on Flickr

ichthyologist:

Manta Rays at Cleaning Station

Due to their large size, manta rays are easy hosts for parasites. The rays have been observed to visit cleaning stations in coral reefs. These open areas are inhabited by a number of smaller fish species which pick parasites off of the ray’s body and gill slits. This relationship is an example of mutualistic symbiosis as the cleaners get an easy meal while the mantas get their parasites removed.

Boris Bialek on Flickr

Surprise! Devil Rays Found Lurking in Deep Ocean Waters
by Kelly Dickerson
The Chilean devil ray has always been considered a shallow-water swimmer, but new research shows that the species frequently dives to depths of more than 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), likely in search of food.
Prior to this research, marine biologists thought Chilean devil rays (Mobula tarapacana) did not descend below 3,280 feet (1,000 m). However, new satellite tracking data now shows that these rays are among the deepest-diving marine animals. Researchers think the rays spend most of their time in shallow water to warm themselves, and then dive down to extreme depths in search of small crustaceans and fish to eat…
(read more: Live Science)
photograph by Nuno Sá

Surprise! Devil Rays Found Lurking in Deep Ocean Waters

by Kelly Dickerson

The Chilean devil ray has always been considered a shallow-water swimmer, but new research shows that the species frequently dives to depths of more than 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), likely in search of food.

Prior to this research, marine biologists thought Chilean devil rays (Mobula tarapacana) did not descend below 3,280 feet (1,000 m). However, new satellite tracking data now shows that these rays are among the deepest-diving marine animals. Researchers think the rays spend most of their time in shallow water to warm themselves, and then dive down to extreme depths in search of small crustaceans and fish to eat…

(read more: Live Science)

photograph by Nuno Sá

Devil Rays Leap High Into The Air and No One Is Sure Why

by Chau Tu

The Munk’s devil ray (Mobula munkiana), pictured above, got the nickname “tortilla” from the fishermen in the Gulf of California where the species lives, says Octavio Aburto, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who took the photo.
 
One reason for the moniker, he says, is because this species is smaller than the three other devil ray species also found in the Gulf, averaging about three feet in wingspan compared with two or three times that size for its brethren. And secondly, the sound of the ray smacking its belly onto the ocean surface after jumping into the air is reminiscent of the slapping of tortilla dough between a chef’s palms.
 
All 9 species of devil rays leap out of the water, but no one yet knows why, says Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, a marine ecologist who was the first to describe the Munk’s devil ray while he was earning a Ph.D at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the early 1980s. But as far as scientists can tell, the Munk’s devil ray is the only species that engages in “spectacular, frequently repeated jumping while in large-to-humongous groups,” he says, although it’s not yet clear if there’s a pattern to their leaping…
(read more: Science Friday)
photos: devil rays in Cabo Pulmo, Mex, by Octavio Aburto / iLCP
Newly Found ‘Godzilla Shark’ Had Teeth Like Namesake
by Jennifer Viegas
A 300-million-year-old shark, dubbed “Godzilla shark,” has been found in the Monzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paleontologist John-Paul-Hodnett informed Discovery News.
Hodnett is an independent researcher with institutional ties to Northern Arizona University and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. He serendipitously came across the tip of the shark’s nose, embedded in rock, while on a trip to the mountains. Its size, anatomy, age, and state of preservation make it a noteworthy discovery, in addition to the shark’s resemblance to the fictional Godzilla…
(read more: Discovery News)
illustration by Ray Troll

Newly Found ‘Godzilla Shark’ Had Teeth Like Namesake

by Jennifer Viegas

A 300-million-year-old shark, dubbed “Godzilla shark,” has been found in the Monzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paleontologist John-Paul-Hodnett informed Discovery News.

Hodnett is an independent researcher with institutional ties to Northern Arizona University and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. He serendipitously came across the tip of the shark’s nose, embedded in rock, while on a trip to the mountains. Its size, anatomy, age, and state of preservation make it a noteworthy discovery, in addition to the shark’s resemblance to the fictional Godzilla…

(read more: Discovery News)

illustration by Ray Troll