Shark Species

How Fast Can a Whale Shark Swim

how fast can a whale shark swim

Sharks are strong animals with powerful jaws that can kill humans. The dwarf lantern shark is the smallest known shark with an average measure of 6 inches and weighs only one ounce. The Whale shark is the largest known Shark with an average measured length of 40 feet and a weight of 15 tons. The Sharks are one of the fastest and agile swimmers that swim with an average speed of 60 miles per hour. 

The Whale Sharks, also called gentle giants, are not Whales but the largest fish in the world.  They got their name from their size and feeding habits. The speed at which the Whale Sharks move is a subject of interest for most biologists and animal enthusiasts alike. 

In this guide, we will cover the below outline:

Whale Shark – Rhincodon typus

Whale Sharks are fish, they breathe through gills, and have cartilage making them the true sharks. They live in all the oceans and temperatures of the world except the Mediterranean Sea. They have thick dark gray skin with distinct yellow spots or stripes. The average measured Whale Shark is 40 feet and has a longer lifespan of 70 to 100 years.

The Whale Shark are filter feeder’s species of Sharks and they have 3000 tiny teeth. They cannot bite or chew the food, they prey on small creatures like shrimps, plankton, and small fish using the gill rakers.

What is the Average Speed of a Shark?

The speed of the shark depends on several factors including species, size, body shape, and type of water. The sharks with streamlined bodies have more speed while the sharks with bulky bodies living in the cold water are slow swimmers. The Sharks swimming in the open ocean have maximum speed as there are only a few obstacles.

5 mph is the average swimming speed of the shark, and if they are resting or regularly swimming, they have an average speed of 1.5mph. The smaller sharks like the Meko Shark and Tiger Shark swim at high speed and are powerful predators as they use their speeds to catch the prey. While the heavier sharks swim at the slowest speed.

Sharks can only swim at slow distances at high speed. If they are swimming at high speed, they can travel only 10 to 30 meters.

How Fast Can a Whale Shark Swim?

The Whale Sharks are slow swimmers; they can swim at 3 miles per hour or 4kmph. The single Whale Shark can travel up to 8000 miles in three years. It is capable of short bursts of 6mph. They can process 6000 liters of water through its gills. The speed of Whale Sharks might change while escaping from enemies or chasing food. If you have encountered any Whale Sharks, enjoy the experience as they are harmless to humans. 

What is the Mechanism Behind the Speed of Whale Shark?

The streamlined body and muscular trails are responsible for the remarkable speed of the Whale Shark. Their bodies are designed in such a way that it reduces the drag as the Whale Shark moves forward while their tails propel them forward. Despite the bigger size of these species, they have adapted themselves to navigate through the waters with relative ease.

Can a Shark Swim Better than a Whale?

The comparison between the speed of whales and Sharks depends on the species you are comparing. Some species of whale are slow compared to sharks like the Blue whale. While some species are faster than sharks like the Orca. Overall, the Whales are the number one predators of the ocean.


1: What is the Fastest Shark Species in the World?

The shortfin mako shark is the fastest-known shark species in the world with a recorded speed of 95 mph.

2: Are Whale Sharks Dangerous?

Although the Whale Sharks are the biggest creatures, they are not aggressive species, and they are not dangerous to humans. 

3: What Factors Affect the Speed of Whale Sharks?

The temperature of the water, presence of the other marine animals, and food affect the speed of the Whale Sharks.

4: Fun Facts About the Whale Shark?

  • Whale Sharks are filter feeders.
  • The Whale Sharks are a cartilaginous species.
  • The average lifespan of these species is 70 to 100 years.
  • They have teeth in their eyes.
  • They have slow swimming speeds and can travel great distances.

That is all from the guide.

Final Thoughts

The Whale Sharks are amazing aquatic creatures, always capturing the attention of divers and tourists worldwide. These are the largest fish species in the world and despite the size of the Whale Shark, they are the slowest shark swimmers in the world. The Whale Shark swims at an average speed of 3mph. However, the speed might increase when they are escaping from enemies or chasing food.

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