Also known as the Gentle Giants Of The Sea, whale sharks are the largest shark and largest of any fish alive today!
These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. However, many whale sharks gather in areas with abundant plankton food—making them prime tourist attractions. The distribution of whale sharks indicates plankton's presence and our oceans' overall health. By regulating the population of smaller fish, whale sharks help to ensure that other marine species have enough food to survive.
Here are some interesting facts about whale sharks:
- Although these vast sea creatures are called ‘whale sharks’, they are not whales but filter-feeding sharks. They are also the world’s largest fish, growing up to 12 metres long.
- It's thought that less than 10% of whale sharks born survive to adulthood, but those that do may live upto 150 years.
- They can migrate thousands of miles to different feeding grounds, but only at a slow swimming speed of around 3 miles per hour.
International Whale Shark Day is marked globally on August 30th. The day is designed to celebrate and increase awareness about these fantastic sea-dwelling creatures. We must protect and conserve the whale shark, as their numbers are declining. The International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Whale Shark as Endangered. There are various threats facing whale sharks, and these include:
- Habitat loss or degradation in the form of overfishing of reef fish, increased boat traffic and noise pollution.
- Although they live relatively long lives of over 70 years, they reach maturity late. Female whale sharks can give birth to up to 300 pups, but only 1 in 10 are expected to survive and, in turn, reach maturity.
- Climate change has impacted many species worldwide, and whale sharks are no exception. The changing climates lead to a loss in their prey species, and the development of coastal regions creates marine pollution, taking away large portions of their habitat.
At Ocean Sole, we’re all for the whale shark and their survival. We make whale shark Flip Flop sculptures to tell the story of the whale shark.
Samuel, an artisan at Ocean Sole who carves whale sharks, explains the process
“Firstly, we create the body of the whale shark using styrofoam which we upcycle. Secondly, we’ll patch the flip-flops on our created body using an eco-glue. The whale shark is known for its signature dotted body; we create the dots by drilling holes in the body of the sculpture. Afterwards, we’ll punch flip flops that can fit in the dots and glue them on the body to create the final look.”
Our whale shark sculptures are made in three sizes:
- Extra Large
- Double extra large
To make a medium whale shark sculpture, you require the following:
- 9 flip-flops
- One artist
- 7 hours of work
An extra-large whale shark sculpture requires the following:
- 34 Flip Flops
- One artist
- 45 hours of work
A double extra-large whale shark sculpture requires:
- 66 Flip flops
- One artist
- 82 hours of work
As part of our conservation efforts, we also do weekly beach clean-ups to remove plastics from our beaches and oceans and protect our marine life. You can be part of this clean-up process as a donor or a volunteer. You can also assist the plight of whale sharks by:
Spreading awareness; if you’re active on social media, you can share this message on all your social media platforms. You can also share with friends and family.
Avoid purchasing items made from the skin of whale sharks and food made using whale shark skin.
Researching organisations that have been established to protect these great sharks. Find out how you can get involved in their mission. You can also donate to these organisations to help with their cause. Additionally, you could also volunteer in these organisations as a way of helping.
- Go plastic free- Plastics are doing a lot of damage to our environment and marine life. Try going through your day without using plastics or recycling the ones you’ve used, and encourage others to adopt a plastic-free lifestyle.
Buy whale shark sculptures and gift them to friends and family to spread awareness.
Be part of the ongoing efforts toward helping the whale shark. Celebrate International whale shark day and get the message out there! These beautiful animals have helped preserve our ecosystem in many ways; it’s time we help them! Our efforts today will allow future generations to see the giants of the seas roaming the oceans in abundance!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for custom projects, partnerships, and collaborations or to see how to stay connected & get involved with our mission!