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Whale shark split panorama. Maldives

The world's largest extant animal is the whale, while the largest living fish species is the shark that was named in honour of this animal, the whale shark. Its average length is 9 meters, but the examples of an 18-meters length are known.

Whale shark

A whale shark's teeth are tiny but it has over 300 rows of them. The overall number of teeth is as high as several thousand! Nevertheless, it is a rather peaceful shark: nature created this giant fish to be fed on plankton and small fishes. The shark gathers the volumes of water, filters it through the gills while the teeth lock the food in a mouth and then it goes to the stomach.

Whale shark

As this shark doesn't need to hunt, it is a rather tranquil and slow animal. Its maximum speed is 5 km/h which the shark can reach only under exceptional circumstances. For reference, the great white shark, one of the most dangerous predators, can swim at speeds of over 56 km/h.

Whale shark

There is no "daily regime" for the whale shark as it stays active 24 hours sinking into short periods of sleep. Comparing to many other fish species, this shark can be observed at both day and night. Oleg Gaponyuk tells his story about his acquaintance with a whale shark in the Maldives:

"Once we were having supper after a long and eventful day. But soon this evening became absolutely unforgettable: a huge whale shark came to our dive boat. The water can distort our perception, but the shark seemed to be more than 6 meters in length. The animal was attracted by the abundance of plankton that gathers around a brightly illuminated boat.

Whale shark

Fortunately, my box lying on a dive deck was still equipped after a night dive and ready to be used. Without much hesitation, I took the camera, mask and flippers and jumped over the board. I was lucky as the shark didn't go away at once and I managed to take the pictures of it until the batteries in the flashlight were totally dead".

The result of this adventure is the night split panorama that was highlighted by the main panoramic competition of the world, the EPSON International Pano Awards.

Photos by Oleg Gaponyuk. Stitching by Ivan Roslyakov

29 April 2020

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Nice presentation, thank you

Karel Hofmann, Czech Republic