The whale shark is the world’s biggest fish, growing up to 18 metres (59ft) long, but it is not a fierce predator. It is a filter feeder that cruises the ocean scooping up krill and small fish. Scientists at Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) studying the diet of whale sharks living around Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia and were surprised to find they ate enormous quantities of seaweed as well as krill. They were further surprised when they found that the sharks obtained more nourishment from the seaweed.
To assess what food sources the sharks were using for energy and growth the researchers analysed the amino acid and fatty acid composition of various food sources from around the reef. They then used a method called compound-specific stable isotope analysis of samples of whale shark tissue, which enables them to assess what foods were being digested and used for energy and growth.
Andy Revill, who analysed the whale shark tissue, explained: “Something like a whale shark, which swims through the water with its mouth open, is going to ingest a lot of different things. But you don’t know how much of that has been used by the animal and how much just goes straight out the other end. Whereas stable isotopes, because they’re actually incorporated into the body, are a much better reflection of what the animals are actually utilizing to grow.”
The analysis of the shark tissue indicated the sharks were feeding on large amounts of sargassum — a type of brown seaweed that grows on the reef and breaks off and floats to the surface.
Mark Meekan, a fish biologist at AIMS, commented: “This causes us to rethink everything we thought we knew about what whale sharks eat.” He went on to say: “We think that over evolutionary time, whale sharks have evolved the ability to digest some of this Sargassum that’s going into their guts. So, the vision we have of whale sharks coming to Ningaloo just to feast on these little krill is only half the story. They’re actually out there eating a fair amount of algae (seaweed) too.”
The combination of plant and animal food in the whale sharks’ diet makes them the world’s largest omnivore.
References: SciTech Daily 10 September 2022; AIMS Press Release 25 July 2022; Ecology 19 July 2022, doi: 10.1002/ecy.3818.
Editorial Comment: Whenever you hear or read of an evolutionist claim something evolved over time ask them “How?” In this case how did they gain the digestive enzymes and biochemical pathways necessary to digest seaweed and process the absorbed nutrients? That would require new genetic information. Time will not produce this, no matter how long the evolutionists want to give. New genetic information needs an outside intelligence to insert it into the genome. That does not take time – it takes a Creator.
These research results confirm the Bible’s history of diets, i.e. the transition was from vegetarian to omnivore. In the beginning all animals ate plants. Whale sharks, and all other sharks, ate plant foods. In the original very good world there would be plenty of nutritious plant foods in the form of seaweeds and sea grasses. The fact that whale sharks are able to digest and process seaweed today confirms this. Since then the environment has degenerated and many animals resorted to eating animal foods as well as plant foods in order to get enough nourishment.
Creation Research News 16 September 2022
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