NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is inviting the public to name its record-breaking whale shark.
On Thursday, the aquarium, located in the township of Motobu, Okinawa Prefecture, marked the 10th successful year of raising the sea creature, the longest period the species has ever been kept in captivity.
The previous record was held by the Osaka-based Kaiyukan aquarium, at 8 years and five months. The Okinawa aquarium’s whale shark is 7 meters long and is estimated to weigh 3,000 kg.
The shark was 4.6 meters long when it was brought to the aquarium in March 1995, having been caught in fixed fishing nets off the village of Yomitan, central Okinawa.
The small-eyed creature’s body is covered in white dots, while its big flat mouth is capable of swallowing krill and spotted shrimp while exuding water through its gills.
The shark, with its two companions, continues to attract crowds at the aquarium. “We invite people to submit a name that is suitable for the grand accomplishment,” said one aquarium employee. The aquarium will accept suggestions until April 11 and plans to hold a naming ceremony on May 2.