The whale shark is a filter feeder — one of only three known filter feeding shark species (along with the basking shark and the megamouth shark). Whale Sharks swim slowly near the surface, consuming small crustacean plankton, small fishes, such as sardines and anchovies, and even larger fishes such as mackerel. Preferring warm waters, whale sharks populate all tropical seas. They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia. The coral spawning of the area's Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton. The whale shark is a live-bearer. Pregnant females were recently found to contain hundreds of young, up to about 2' (60cm) long.
The whale shark is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, along coastal regions, and enters lagoons on tropical islands. It is mostly seen on the surface were divers and snorkelers can swim with this gentle, curious creature. This species, despite its enormous size, does not pose any significant danger to humans. It is a frequently cited example when educating the public about the popular misconceptions of all sharks as "man-eaters". They are actually quite gentle and can be playful with divers. The eggs remain in the body and the females give birth to live young which are 40 centimetres (15.7 in) to 60 centimetres (23.6 in) long. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity at around 30 years and the life span has been estimated to be over 100 years.