Whale Shark (Wild Safari Sea Life by Safari Ltd.)

Review and images by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972

The appropriately named whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest shark and the biggest fish alive today. The largest recorded specimen was a female with a length of 18.8 metres (62 feet), which is greater than that of many actual whales. Most individuals, however, average around 9.8 metres (32 feet). Like the basking shark and the megamouth shark, the whale shark is a filter feeder that only consumes zooplankton and tiny fish.

Appropriately, the largest shark figure in the Wild Safari Sea Life series is a whale shark. She (yup, another female, surprise, surprise!) is sculpted with her mighty tail undulating to the left, making her 20 cm long and 8.5 cm wide at the tips of her broad pectoral fins (scale 1:44 – 1:94 in scale). Everything about her is big, from her tall caudal fins to her massive body and to her blocky head, which is the widest part of her.

The whale shark’s main colours are medium grey and white with black eyes and countless little light grey spots and stripes covering the entire upper portion of her body in a rather orderly fashion, almost like a carpet pattern. Indeed, despite its huge size, the whale shark is a member of the group known as carpet sharks, whose other members include relatively small species such as the zebra shark, bamboo sharks, nurse sharks, and wobbegong sharks.

Unlike all other sharks, the whale shark’s mouth is located right at the very front of its head as opposed to on the bottom, as clearly seen on this toy. The sculpted nostrils and barbels (a common feature of carpet sharks) are also clearly visible near the ends of the mouth. Unlike the basking shark, which can only feed by swimming forward with its mouth open, the whale shark is an active feeder that can suck vast quantities of water and food into its mouth while swimming or stationary. Filter pads inside the mouth retain the food while water is expelled through the five gills on either side of the head, which again are correctly depicted on this toy.

This whale shark also boasts correctly shaped fins, including the enormous caudal lobes at the end of the tail. And finally, there are the distinctive three ridges running along each of the shark’s sides, and the caudal keel that serves to strengthen the tail and streamline the animal as it wanders through the world’s oceans.

Overall, the Safari whale shark is a superb toy, one whose large size and fine sculpting should please any shark fan. Available wherever Safari products are sold.

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