Galapagos Species Checklist

Rhincodon typus

Smith, 1828

Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Division Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes (= Elasmobranchii)
Order Orectolobiformes
Suborder Galeomorphi
Family Rhincodontidae
Genus Rhincodon

Rhincodon typus  Smith, 1828


English common name: Whale shark

Spanish common name: tiburón ballena

Local name: tiburón ballena

Taxonomic comments: Syn.: Micristodus punctatus Gill, 1865, Rhiniodon typus (Smith, 1828), Rhinodon pentalineatus Kishinouye, 1901, Rhinodon typicus Müller & Henle, 1839, Rhinodon typicus Smith, 1845, fide Appeltans et al. (2010)

Name status: Accepted name; taxon occurs in Galapagos.

Description: Size: Maximum lengths remains uncertain, but 18.3 m TL has been stated as credible. Gray to gray-brown, fading to white underside; thin whitish lines join spots on back. Three ridges run on sides from head to base of tail; first dorsal fin more than halfway back on body. World's largest fish.

Habitat: Open waters in regions of upwelling.

Last updated: 23 Jan 2014

IUCN Status

Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Vulnerable - Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

The IUCN Red List assessments presented here may deviate from the global IUCN listings for the following reasons:

  • for well-known species groups, such as vascular plants or vertebrates, updates proposed to the IUCN are shown, rather than the outdated, but currently-used status;
  • for poorly-known species groups, such as lichenized fungi, a general assessment is not currently possible, therefore the list presented here is the regional IUCN Red List for the Galapagos Archipelago.


Bioregions: South-eastern.

Galapagos island groups: Santa Cruz.

Rare. Throughout tropical waters, in the eastern Pacific from off California and Mexico to nothern Chile and Galapagos. Worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters. Circumtropical

Please be aware that this distribution map is automatically generated from database records (CDF and external specimens, literature records, and observations) and may not accurately reflect the currently-known distribution for all species.


  • Appeltans, W., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G.A., Fauchald, K., Gordon, D.P., Hoeksema, B.W., Poore, G.C.B., van Soest, R.W.M., Stöhr, S., Walter, T.C., Costello, M.J. (eds.) (2010) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). Available online at
  • Constant, P. (2007) Marine Life of the Galapagos. The Diver's guide to Fishes, Whales, Dolphins and marine Invertebrates, 307 pp.
  • Froese, R., Pauly, D. (eds.) (2010) FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
  • Grove, J.S., Lavenberg, R.J. (1997) The Fishes of the Galapagos Islands. Stanford University Press, Stanford California. 862 pp.
  • Humann, P., Deloach, N. (2003) Reef Fish Identification - Galapagos. New World Publication, Inc. Florida USA & Libri Mundi, Quito, Ecuador, 226 pp.
  • IUCN (2010) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. . Downloaded on 26 April 2010.
  • McCosker, J.E., Rosenblatt, R.H. (2010) The fishes of the Galápagos Archipelago: an update. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sc., Ser. 4, vol. 61, Suppl. II, no. 11: 167-195.
  • Norman, B. (2005) Rhincodon typus