(Rhincodon typus Smith 1829)
Brad Norman, ECOCEAN
Marine Species Section
Environment Australia, October 2002
ISBN 0 642 54900 1
Due to the cartilaginous nature of shark fins, the small size and relative immaturity of the shark specimen (<4m TL) used to construct this 'Manual', it is apparent that the x-rays of the fin established a very low level of calcification in the fin rays. As a result, a lower than ideal level of fin ray identification was possible.
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.