Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium’s main exhibit, named “Kuroshio Sea,” is famous for its biggest residents: whale sharks. To house the world’s biggest fish, the tank measures an incredible 35x27x10 metres (115x89x33 ft) and holds 7,500 cubic metres (1,981,000 US gal) of seawater.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is hoping that its mature male whale shark, Jinta, may soon breed with one of their two immature female whale sharks, which had shared the tank with Jinta over the years. Recently, Jinta has expressed interest in the female whale sharks, who are growing quickly and coming into sexual maturity.
Aquarium staff decided to remove one of the two females so that Jinta can focus his attention on just one female. Keiichi Sato, a curator at the aquarium, is hopeful that their whale sharks may breed, which would mark a world’s first. In fact, as massive and conspicuous as whale sharks are, absolutely nothing is known about their mating or pupping (breeding). Captive breeding would thus provide scientists and the public the first ever look into the secret reproductive life of these gentle giants.
If anyone can accomplish this colossal breakthrough, it’s Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Their résumé includes the first captive breeding of another sea-faring leviathan: manta rays.
Here’s a beautiful video showcasing the size and grace of whale sharks and manta rays at Kuroshio Sea.