whale sharks are docile, slow moving filter feeders that feed by drifting with their capacious mouths open, drawing in plankton, fish, and small crustaceans. but foreign objects, such as plastic, can also be drawn into the shark’s digestive system, causing them harm.
whale sharks, the largest non mammalian vertebrates on the planet, originated some sixty million years ago, but are now listed as a vulnerable species, coming under particular threat from boat propellers and pollution. they are also hunted for their fins, though the u.a.e. banned the shark fin trade in 2008
photos by marine biologist thomas peschak n the gulf of tadjoura, djibouti