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DistributionDistribution: tropical waters. Often near the surface, sometimes in schools of up to hundreds of sharks. Whale sharks are apparently highly migratory, probably timed with blooms of planktonic organisms. Five exceptionally large gill openings, the fifth behind origin of pectoral fin, over fin base. Elongated gill rakers. Mouth terminal. Reduced teeth. A unique color pattern of light spots and vertical and horizontal stripes, in the form of a checkerboard. Planktivorous. Maximum length 15.2 m, probably bigger (world's largest fish).