In general, the whale shark is kept in the warm waters of low latitudes, meeting almost everywhere in this belt, although everywhere it is few. Its range is confined mainly to the waters between 30 ° north and 35 ° south latitude, but sharks can go further north or south – up to 40 degrees north. It has been established that whale sharks prefer ocean areas with a water temperature in the near-surface layer from 21 to 25 ° C, with an inflow from the depth of colder water (up to 17 ° C) (in such places, apparently, there is the greatest amount of plankton that sharks feed) And a very high salinity – 34-35 ppm. According to observations in the Gulf of California, whale sharks in this area preferred warm water, with a temperature of 26-34 ° C. There is also evidence that these sharks occasionally appear in fresh waters, swimming in the mouth of rivers, especially if there are clusters of plankton organisms.
Despite the fact that the whale shark occurs almost everywhere in the warm waters of the world’s oceans, in a number of regions it is more numerous. The most common whale sharks can be found, in particular, near Taiwan and the Seychelles, where they keep year-round, although their peak in these waters is observed in June-August and October-November. The increased number of whale sharks is noted off the coasts of East and South-East Africa, where the fluctuations in abundance are also seasonal; While, according to some estimates, 19% of the world’s population lives off the coast of Mozambique. Other areas where whale sharks are common inhabitants are the Gulf of Mexico, the waters of the Philippines (here sharks are particularly plentiful from December to May), the coast of Chile, some areas of Australia’s coast. In other places, the appearance of whale sharks is relatively rare and always seasonal.
Apparently, the whale shark does not form subspecies. Even very remote populations do not have noticeable differences. Thus, studies of sharks living in the Gulf of California and the Philippines showed that these two populations do not have any differences at the genetic level.