Whale sharks belong to the order of Orectolobiformes or Carpet sharks. In contrast to most sharks in that order, which are benthic (living at greater depths), the Whale shark habitat is pelagic (living in the open sea, closer to the surface).
They usually remain within the ± 30 ° latitude, inhabiting oceans and seas of tropical and subtropical warm waters with surface temperatures around 21-30 º C and high primary productivity (lots of plankton). They mainly live offshore in an average depth of 700 meters, although it is possible to see them closer to shore, entering lagoons or coral atolls, and near the mouths of rivers and estuaries.
Whale sharks are found in several oceans of the world.
They live in the western Atlantic from Northern USA down throughout the Caribbean until mid-height of Brazil and they are also found in the Atlantic from Senegal to the Gulf of Guinea.
In the Indian Ocean it appears everywhere, including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
In the western Pacific the Whale Shark is found from Japan to Australia and Hawaii, and in the eastern Pacific from California in the United States to Chile.
Whale shark habitat: Highest concentration
The highest concentration of whale sharks in the world is in the Philippines. Between January and May, whale sharks group in the shallow shores of Donsol in the Sorsogon province. Another high concentration of Whale Sharks is found between May and September near Contoy Island in the Caribbean coast of Mexico, where groups of 50 or more sharks can be found together. Smaller numbers are found in the Caribbean Sea of Belize as well. Some very lucky divers have found whale sharks in Puerto Rico and the Seychelles. Between December and September, they are often seen in the Bay of La Paz in the Mexican state of Baja California. There have been sightings in the vicinity of Tenggol Island, located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, where there are also several coral reefs frequented by the sharks, like Redang Island or the island of Kapas.
Read more about Whale sharks
Whale shark Habitat and geographic areas Source: IUCN; Wb Florida Natural Hysteria Museum; Fishbase.org; Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts of the Australian Government; Wikipedia by Mª Carmen Soria (Licenciada en Ciencias Ambientales)