Stupendous sharks: The biggest, smallest and strangest sharks in the world

Introduction

 It’s Shark Week: Time to celebrate all that is toothy, finned, and leather-skinned. The Discovery Channel’s annual week of shark programming starts July 24 (you can sink your teeth into all the sharky goodness with our Shark Week streaming guide). In honor of these incredible creatures, we’ve rounded up a list of shark superlatives. Which of these cartilaginous wonders is the largest, the fastest, the weirdest? We’ve got your answers right here.  

The biggest shark

Whale sharks are huge, but they are among the gentlest of all shark species. (Image credit: Colors and shapes of underwater world via Getty Images)

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The largest shark alive today is a gentle giant: the whale shark. These filter-feeders typically grow to be about 40 feet long (12.1 meters) and weigh around 11 tons (9,979 kilograms), according to the World Wildlife Fund. And they do it on a diet of plankton. 

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