Monday, April 27, 2020

W is for Whale sharks (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

Status: Endangered

Lolo Awing
Bantoanon legend from the Philippines

Muslim pirates capture an old man from his island, but they decide he is not useful to them, so they put him ashore on a deserted island. With no way to get home, the old man prays every day to God for help, and survives by foraging. One day a whale shark swims up to the shore. The next it comes back with another whale shark. On the third day there are three of them. The old man hopes they were sent by God, so he tells them to swim away and come back, to prove they understand him. When they do, he sits on the back of the largest whale shark, and it carries him safely home, with the other two swimming along for protection.

I also found a Swahili legend from Kenya and Mozambique, in which God creates all the creatures of the sea, and he is so pleased with how beautiful the whale shark turned out that he and the angels throw handfuls of gold and silver coins at it. The coins stick, and the whale shark has had spots on its back ever since. In Kiswahili they call it "papa shillingi."

Sources: Read Lolo Awing here. Read the Swahili story here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, here, or here.

Would you swim with a whale shark? They are the largest fish in the ocean, and they only eat plankton! 


  1. They are beautiful sharks! I wouldn't swim with one even knowing they wouldn't bite. I'm must not that brave! Another animal I didn't know was endangered. How sad so many are.

  2. It's interesting that this animal seems to have a connection to God in different cultures.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  3. Beautiful creature.
    Question: why does the first tale specify 'Muslim' pirates? This is the first time I've come across a specific religion in a creation story. Usually, it's God or Creator. Hence, the curiosity.

  4. Wow- both legends very interesting.I can tell the 2nd one of my little one - so she can relate to the spots on whale. Thank u

  5. Sweet tale, and those big fishes are so beautiful! They are like Manta rays, mouth wide open;)
    W is for Women

  6. What a lovely creature, well-deserving of those fabulous tales. I love the "coin" spots! I would most definitely swim with one if I had the chance.

  7. Wow. Those spots were definitely well earned! I loved reading the legends. Is it the largest? Even larger than the Blue Whale?

    1. Largest fish. I think blue whale is largest mammal?

  8. When I think of the whale shark, such a gentle creature who doesn't bother anyone, as being endangered, it makes my heart hurt. Such a vast area of water in which to travel, and yet never far away from the damage of humans.

  9. Sharks are such lovely animals. Despite all the scare stories about them, it's obvious humans are far more dangerous animals than sharks.

  10. Excellent post- so very thoughtful.