Being the largest fish in our sea, The Whale Shark can weigh up to 50,000 pounds and grow to be over 30 feet long. It is, however, deceivingly harmless. It survives mainly off of plankton and the occasional small fish. Ironically, they also pose no threats to humans - at times even allowing swimmers to hitch rides on their backs - despite the fatal impact we’ve had on them and their ecosystem.
The Whale Shark has been on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species since 2000, when it was categorized as Vulnerable. It’s classification had not been remediated by the time of its second assessment in 2005 and only continued to worsen. In 2016, the Whale Shark became Endangered and research shows their numbers are still declining. Its population in the Indo-Pacific region has been reduced by 63 percent and approximately 30 percent in the Atlantic. Combining the data of both regions shows that the overall population of the Whale Shark has been cut in half.