Whale sharks may sound like something to be afraid of, but in reality they are slow moving and gentle. Whale sharks are actually a type of shark, the largest of any fish species in the world. They can grow to be up to 40 feet long! I know that only makes them sound scarier, but they are called whale sharks because they share many characteristics with whales as well. Like baleen whales they are filter feeders, eating small foods that they consume without ever using their tiny teeth. So unless you’re a plankton you have nothing to fear from a whale shark. Unfortunately, these gentle giants are in danger. They are hunted in large numbers for their fins and meat. International Whale Shark Day raises awareness about the harmlessness of whale sharks and the dangers they face.