Although many people credit the blue whale as the biggest fish in the world, it is the whale shark which actually qualifies for the title. Although the blue whale is undoubtedly the largest living animal on our planet, it is a mammal and not a fish. Instead, the whale shark, a true fish belonging to the Chondrichthyes class, holds the record. The second and third biggest fishes in the world are the basking shark and the great white shark, respectively. While all these three species are cartilaginous fishes, the largest bony fish is the ocean sunfish, and it comes in at number six on our list of the world's biggest fish.
The Largest Fish: Whale Shark
The whale shark or Rhincodon typus, the world's largest fish, is found in the warm tropical oceans where it feeds on smaller fish and plankton. These fishes have lifespans ranging from 80 to 130 years.
How Big Is The Whale Shark?
According to National Ocean Services, whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet and weigh as much as 40 tons. However, it is rare to find a whale shark that is close to 40 feet long. The Encyclopedia of Life has reported that whale sharks are generally between 18 to 33 feet long.
Biggest Whale Shark On Record
There is a lot of uncertainty as to the size of the largest specimen of whale shark ever caught due to the variety of methods used to measure the caught specimens. In 1868, an Irish scientist E.P. Wright claimed to have observed whale sharks that were over 50 ft long. In 1934, a whale shark that rammed onto a ship in the south Pacific Ocean was estimated to be about 55 ft long. Satellite tracking of whale sharks have reported two specimens to be anywhere between 49 ft and 59 ft long.
Coming In Second: Basking Shark
The Cetorhinus maximus is commonly known as the basking shark. It comes in on our list at number two. It can be found around the world, as it swims in arctic and temperate waters. Its lifespan is up to 50 years, and it enjoys feasting on zooplankton.
How Big Is The Basking Shark?
A basking shark typically weighs 5.5 tons, and it is usually over 32 feet long. According to Britannica, the basking shark can grow to be as long as 46 feet.
Biggest Basking Shark On Record
The biggest basking shark recorded was caught in a herring net in 1851. It was said to have been 40 feet long. The fish was found in the Bay of Fundy, a bay located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Third Biggest Fish: Great White Shark
The Carcharodon carcharias is the most famous shark due to its attacks on humans. The great white shark can be found all around the world. Popular locations include South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Guadalupe Island, California, and the North Atlantic region. It feeds on anything from small fish to large mammals. This shark lives up to 70 years, according to a 2014 study.
How Big Is The Great White Shark?
The third-largest fish on our list is generally 15 to 20 feet long. It weighs 2.5 tons (4,000-7,000 pounds) and sometimes more.
Biggest Great White Shark On Record
In January 2019, the Independent reported divers spotting the biggest great white shark near Oahu, Hawaii. It was nearly 23 feet long, weighed 5,000 pounds, and was believed to be 50-years-old.
The Biggest Bony Fish: Ocean Sunfish
The ocean sunfish, Mola mola, is the biggest bony fish in the world; overall, it is number six on our list of biggest fishes. The ocean sunfish lives up to ten years, and some believe even longer than that; though, researchers are still unsure. It lives in tropical waters, and its preferred meal is the jellyfish.
How Big Is The Ocean Sunfish?
The ocean sunfish grows up to ten feet long, and it can weigh up to 2.5 tons. They are considered to be the heaviest bony fish. The most interesting aspect of this fish is that it looks like half of a fish. This is because the ocean sunfish's back fin never grows. As it gets older, the tail folds into itself.
Biggest Ocean Sunfish On Record
The biggest ocean sunfish was caught off the coast of Japan in 1996. This fish was 5,070 pounds and classified as a Mola mola, one of the six species of the ocean sunfish. However, National Geographic reported that in 2003 scientists realized that the fish was actually a Mola alexandrini ocean sunfish. The Mola alexandrini has a “prominent head shape, lending it the common name the ‘bump-headed sunfish,’” according to Live Science.