Whale sharks are found in all temperate and tropical oceans around the world, except the Mediterranean Sea, and their local-language names reveal a lot about them. Photo: Getty Images
Whale sharks are found in all temperate and tropical oceans around the world, except the Mediterranean Sea, and their local-language names reveal a lot about them. Photo: Getty Images
Lisa Lim
Opinion

Opinion

Language Matters by Lisa Lim

Whale shark’s size led to its name, although it’s a fish; in other cultures it is a grandparent of the seas, and ‘tofu shark’ for fans of its flesh

  • The names different cultures have for the whale shark, the world’s biggest fish, reveal a lot about them. Some revere them, others see them as food
  • In Vietnam it is the grandfather fish, a name echoed in parts of Indonesia, where it is also ‘god’s fish’. Names such as ‘starry shark’ play on its dappled skin

Whale sharks are found in all temperate and tropical oceans around the world, except the Mediterranean Sea, and their local-language names reveal a lot about them. Photo: Getty Images
Whale sharks are found in all temperate and tropical oceans around the world, except the Mediterranean Sea, and their local-language names reveal a lot about them. Photo: Getty Images
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