Whale sharks are the animals that are most deserving of the name "gentle giants". They grow to an incredible 18m (55 feet) in length and can reach an estimated weight of more than 42,000kg (100,000lbs). They are known to travel great distances and they occupy all tropical and sub tropical oceans. Yet very little is known about how they reproduce or why they congregate in the Galapagos Islands as they do. Three strong ocean currents converge in the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf in the Galapagos. Part of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands straddle the equator, yet the Humboldt current brings cold water to this area and it creates a unique and surprisingly temperate climate in an area that would be expected to be one of the warmest regions on the planet. These currents bring an abundance of plankton, fish, and other food sources for marine animals of all kinds. It would be the perfect environment for a whale shark to thrive, coming here what would be perfect feeding grounds. Yet, whale sharks are not seen feeding in these plankton-rich waters. Almost all of the whale sharks found here are pregnant females, ready to give birth to their pups. But researchers and scientists will almost never witness this miracle in action, and they don't even know where the young go in the first months of their lives. Scuba divers also congregate in these waters, traveling from all over the world, hoping to catch even a glimpse of one of these goliaths as they slowly swim through the area. Whale shark sightings are a bucket list item for scuba and nature enthusiasts. These lucky divers were treated to more than a glimpse as this magnificent lady casually cruised right up to them and circled around as if she was inspecting them. Fearless, the whale sharks do not see people as a threat. They are so massive that a clumsy person in the water could do them no harm. This is mutual, as whale sharks do not possess teeth, or even the ability to harm people, except for the possibility of a collision. These giants are filter feeders, feeding by opening their mouths wide to capture eggs, plankton, and small fish. They have little ability to defend themselves against predators, except by out swimming them, or diving deeper than their predators can go. These gentle beasts are truly awe inspiring to witness in their natural environment.
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