The biggest shark known to exist is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Despite its name, the whale shark is not a whale but rather a shark and holds the title for being the largest fish species in the world. It can grow to enormous sizes, with the average adult ranging from 9 to 14 meters (30 to 46 feet) in length. However, there have been reports of whale sharks reaching lengths of over 18 meters (60 feet).
Whale sharks have a distinct appearance with their massive size, broad head, and a wide mouth filled with rows of small teeth. They have a unique pattern of pale yellow spots and stripes on their dark gray or brownish skin, which can be used to identify individuals.
Despite their enormous size, whale sharks are filter feeders and mainly feed on plankton, small fish, and other small marine organisms. They are considered gentle giants and are not a threat to humans.
It’s worth mentioning that while the whale shark is the largest living shark species, it is not the largest shark to have ever existed. That title belongs to the extinct megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon), which lived approximately 23 to 2.6 million years ago. Megalodon is estimated to have reached lengths of up to 18 meters (59 feet) or possibly even more, making it one of the largest known predators in the history of our planet.