CITES identification manual Whale Shark

(Rhincodon typus Smith 1829)
Brad Norman, ECOCEAN
Marine Species Section
Environment Australia, October 2002
ISBN 0 642 54900 1

Please note:

Due to the cartilaginous nature of shark fins, the small size and relative immaturity of the shark specimen (

However, given the large size of the majority of whale sharks captured and utilised for trade, it will be possible to identify most fins (as originating from a whale shark) through the presence of a unique patterning and colouration on the dorsal and lateral surface of the fins. To increase the chance of a positive identification of products traded from this species, it would be advisable to prepare a simple 'protein fingerprinting' kit. This should then be made available to Customs officials to assist with the accurate determination of the species of shark from which the traded fins originated.