The great white shark is the manifestation of power and is mistakenly thought to be the largest fish in the world. Other fish species exceed the great white shark in length and weight. All the longest animals on earth are found in the world’s oceans, and many of them are fish species. The whale shark is the longest of them all with adults reaching over 30 feet long. For comparison, the largest great white sharks grow to be 20 feet in length. The following is a list of ten of the world's longest fish, in no particular order.
10. Giant oarfish
The species is also known as the king of the herrings or the Pacific oarfish. This fish species holds the record for the longest bony fish in the world and is among the world’s longest fish species with adults averaging 9.8 feet in length. The longest verified specimen was 36 feet in length while the maximum weight on an individual fish was measured at 600 pounds. Due to its elongated body and considerable length, the giant oarfish is believed to have been the cause behind the “sea serpent” sightings in the ocean. The long fish feeds on small crustaceans and krill but can also feed on squid and small fish.
9. Largetooth sawfish
The largetooth sawfish is the longest of all sawfish species. Adults grow to a length of up to 23 feet and over 1,300 pounds in weight. The largest individual ever caught in West Africa was 23 feet long. Overfishing has made the global population of this sawfish species plummet in recent years, and is now considered as critically endangered. The sawfish is fished for its fins, meat, and bones. Mollusks, crustaceans, and fish make up the diet of the largetooth sawfish. Contrary to popular belief, the largetooth sawfish is docile to humans.
8. Tiger Shark
Adult tiger sharks range between 10 and 13 feet in length, with exceptionally large sharks exceeding 16 feet in length, making this fish species one of the longest in the world. The tiger shark gets its name from the stripes that run down its body. The shark is the largest in the Carcharhinidae family which features other large shark species such as the bull shark. As one of the largest sharks, the tiger shark is an apex predator in its environment. The shark preys on a wide range of animals from sea birds and turtles to dolphins and whales. The shark’s aggressive feeding behavior makes it feed on items such as cans and tires.
7. Longcomb sawfish
Also known as the green sawfish, the longcomb sawfish rivals the largetooth sawfish in size, with exceptionally large individuals being 24 feet in length. However, adult longcomb sawfish rarely grows to exceed 20 feet in length. Nonetheless, the longcomb sawfish is recognized as one of the longest fish species in the world. Fish, mollusks, and crustaceans make up the bulk of the longcomb sawfish’s diet. The docile but huge sawfish is harmless to humans. The longcomb sawfish has experienced a drastic decline in its global population and is currently regarded as critically endangered.
6. Greenland shark
The Greenland shark is closely related to the larger Pacific sleeper shark, with the two species being part of the Somniosidae family. The shark species is noted for its longevity, having the longest lifespans of any vertebrate. Some of the oldest individuals are estimated to be over 500 years in age. Adult Greenland sharks can grow to be 24 feet in length and over 3,000 pounds in weight. However, most individuals attain 15.7 feet and over 800 pounds in length and weight respectively.
5. Beluga sturgeon
Like many species that make up the sturgeon family, the Beluga sturgeon is of exceptional size. Adult beluga sturgeon grow to 16.4 feet in length and over 2,000 pounds in weight. The largest individual beluga sturgeon was measured to be 23.6 feet in length and weighing over 3,400 pounds. Beluga sturgeon can attain such incredible sizes by continuing growing regardless of age. Therefore, the large specimens are possibly also exceptionally old. Overfishing has had a detrimental effect on global numbers of the sturgeon which is now critically endangered.
4. Pacific Sleeper Shark
The Pacific sleeper shark inhabits the North Pacific and the Arctic Oceans. A large shark species, adult sleeper sharks, have an average length of 12 feet and attain weights between 700 and 800 pounds. The largest individual measured 14 feet long, and scientists believe that shark can even reach lengths of 23 feet. Little is known about the dietary habits of the sleeper shark, but according to its stomach contents, it is believed to feed on shrimps, crabs, snails, and flounders. Large adult sharks are believed to subsist on a giant octopus.
3. Great white shark
The great white shark is among the largest of all sharks, with adult females being over 2,400 pounds in weight and over 15 feet long. The largest specimen was an individual caught in Australia in 1987 which was measured reaching 19.7 feet in length. However, there are reports of bigger individuals claimed to be over 20 feet in length. While the shark will avoid humans, it is the cause of the majority of the fatal unprovoked shark attacks on humans.
2. Basking shark
The basking shark is a large fish species found in most of the world’s oceans. The shark is one of the world's largest fish species and is only exceeded by the whale shark in size. Adult basking sharks reach an average weight of 5.2 tons and a length ranging between 20 and 26 feet. Exceptionally large individuals can be as much as 33 feet in length, with the largest specimen being 40.3 feet in length and 16 tons in weight. Like the whale shark, this shark is a filter feeder, feeding on zooplankton and tiny invertebrates.
1. Whale shark
The whale shark is among the largest animals in the world and is the longest fish species. Scientifically known as the Rhincodon typus, the shark holds the record of being both the world’s largest fish and longest non-cetacean animal. Adult specimen have an average length of 32 feet, and about 9 tons in weight. However, there are few outstanding exceptions including the largest ever whale shark with verified measurements. The shark which was caught in 1949 in Pakistan was measured to be 41.5 feet in length, 23 feet in girth, and 21.5 tons in weight. A filter feeder, the shark, primarily feeds on plankton.
The World's 10 Longest Species Of Fish
|Rank||Animal||Scientific name||Maximum length [m (ft)]|
|1||Whale shark||Rhincodon typus||12.65|
|2||Basking shark||Cetorhinus maximus||12.27|
|3||Giant oarfish||Regalecus glesne||11|
|4||Largetooth sawfish||Pristis pristis||7.5|
|5||Tiger Shark||Galeocerdo cuvier||7.4|
|6||Longcomb sawfish||Pristis zijsron||7.3|
|7||Greenland shark||Somniosus microcephalus||7.3|
|8||Beluga sturgeon||Huso huso||7.2|
|9||Pacific Sleeper Shark||Somniosus pacificus||7|
|10||Great white shark||Carcharodon carcharias||7|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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