Facts about the animal kingdom

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. June 26, 2020
What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean?

Fish are a paraphyletic group that describes aquatic vertebrates. These animals vary greatly in size. In this AnimalWised article, we're going to take a look at the largest fish in the ocean, as well as other large fish that swim in our oceans.

We'll start with the largest fish, the whale shark, and continue down on our top 5 largest fish in the world list. We'll include photos and information about each one. Curious about these giant creatures? Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: The 10 Largest Sharks in the World


  1. Largest fish in the world: Whale shark
  2. Basking shark
  3. Great white shark
  4. Tiger shark
  5. Giant oceanic manta ray

Largest fish in the world: Whale shark

First on our list and the largest fish in the world is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). These animals weigh around 21.5 tons and are 18.8m (62 ft) long. Making them the largest known fish in our oceans.

These giant fish are slow-moving, filter-feeding sharks. They're found in open waters of the tropical oceans and are known to migrate to the central west coast of Australia each spring. Although these fish are massive, they are also very docile and do not pose any danger to humans. This is why you might find some photos of scuba divers swimming along with the largest fish in the world.

They were first discovered in 1828 in South Africa. Nowadays, we know more about these sharks as they have been studied by many marine biologists. These sharks are filter-feeding carnivorous sharks. Their mouths can contain over 300 rows of tiny teeth and 20 filter pads which it uses to filter feed. Learn more in our article about the dietary habits of the whale shark.

These fish are currently considered to be an endangered species as they are still a hunted species in many countries in Asia.

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean? - Largest fish in the world: Whale shark

Basking shark

The second largest fish in the ocean is the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). Adults can reach up to 12.27m (40.3 ft) in length and weigh 19 tons. They are one of three plankton-eating shark species. They are usually greyish-brown with spots. They received their name due to their habit of feeding at the surface of the ocean.

These sharks are found world-wide in boreal warm-temperate waters and they occasionally enter brackish water. They're usually about 910 m (2,990 ft) below the surface. They follow plankton concentration and, therefore, will go up to the surface to feed.

Basking sharks are active all-year round. Meaning that they do not hibernate. Instead, they move to deeper waters in winter. They are slow-moving sharks that don't disturb any nearby boats. Although they are slow-moving, these animals are capable of breaching (jumping entirely out of the water).

These sharks have few predators but one of them is the killer whale. They are currently an endangered species do to human overexploitation. They are used for their fins, as animal feed and for shark liver oil.

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean? - Basking shark

Great white shark

Third on our list is the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). They're known for their large and robust snout. They measure up to 7 m (23 ft.) in length and weigh 3.3 tons. The great white sharks present sexual dimorphism as females are larger than males.

Great white sharks are carnivores that prey on fish, cetaceans, pinnipeds, sea turtles, sea otters and even seabirds. Their powerful jaw makes them effective predators.

These sharks are found in almost all coastal and offshore waters which have water temperature between 12 and 24 °C (54 and 75 °F). They are mostly found in the United States, South Africa, Chile and Japan. Great white sharks don't have any known predators, although on rare occasions they can be hunted by the killer whale. Nevertheless, they are currently vulnerable to extinction.

This is due to the fact that great white sharks take a long time to mature and reproduce. As well as the fact that they are hunted by humans for certain dishes. There are currently certain conservation plans in action in different countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and North America. Learn more about shark reproduction in our article.

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean? - Great white shark

Tiger shark

The fourth largest fish in the ocean is the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier).

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean? - Tiger shark

Giant oceanic manta ray

Last on our top 5 largest fish in the ocean list is the giant oceanic manta ray (Mobula birostris

What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean? - Giant oceanic manta ray

Still curious in learning more about the largest fish in the ocean? Watch this Youtube video by Simon Spear where he films the giant whale shark swimming in Islas Mujeres.

If you want to read similar articles to What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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What Is the Largest Fish in the Ocean?