It can grow as long as a tractor-trailer. Thousands of teeth line its jaws. A fearsome killing machine of the open sea? No, a gentle giant, a placid consumer of tiny prey that spends a lot of time basking at the surface.
Although they range around the world, little is know about whale sharks because they rarely come close to shore and are hardly ever seen--except in the months of March or April. Then, for reasons unknown, the enormous fish congregate by the thousands off the coast of Western Australia, and have become such a huge public attraction that the government has had to prohibit divers from touching or riding them. Unlike other sharks who are in danger of being hunted to extinction, we now have a shark, of unparalleled magnitude, that we may just love too much.