The Biggest Fish Species In The World That Isn't A Shark

Everybody knows there's plenty of fish in the sea until people eat them all. But since humans enjoy living in the moment, just pretend that the ocean is an all-you-can eat buffet. Maybe you want to eat Jaws to get revenge for that terrible fourth movie. Or maybe you've got bigger fish to fry. Maybe you want to fry the biggest fish in the ocean, smother it in tartar sauce, and chow down like there's no tomorrow. If so, then have yourself a whale shark, which simultaneously holds the titles of world's largest fish and world's largest shark

These longest whale shark on record measured about 65.6 feet (20 meters), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the agency emphasizes that they usually reach little over 39 feet (12 meters) long and weigh around 40 tons. That might sound deliciously dangerous and exciting, but while the NOAA notes that "whale sharks are commonly docile and approachable," it also asks you to "please keep your distance," which sounds a bit like a mixed message. What if you don't like sharks or ambiguity? Luckily, there are still plenty of big fish that aren't sharks in the sea. What's the biggest?

A manta ray of happiness

Despite looking like a misshapen pancake with a tail, the ray is a kind of cartilaginous fish, according to Britannica. Rays are related to sharks but have "flattened, disk-like [bodies]," winglike fins, and delightful faces on their underside. They also swim and breathe differently. And unlike sharks, rays probably go great with syrup, if their looks are any indication. The first non-shark on the World Atlas's list of the largest fish living today is a species of ray called Manta birostris, known less Latin-ly as the giant ocean manta ray.

The giant manta ray can extend 23 feet and weigh three tons. The Florida Museum mentions that in a few cases their wingspan approached 30 feet. Other names for this gargantuan animal include devil ray, devilfish, sea devil and Australian devilray, though it seems redundant to call an Australian a "devil" anything. Really though, comparing them to Satan seems a tad harsh. They're considered minimally dangerous to people. They eat small fish and adorably flap their wings and jump out of the water to play or woo their watery love interests. Meanwhile people have a history of eating giant manta rays, which presumably makes man a land devil.