Alice, longest-tenured whale shark at Georgia Aquarium, dies

Alice, a whale shark acquired by the Georgia Aquarium in 2006, has died. Photo: courtesy Georgia Aquarium

Credit: Georgia Aquarium

Credit: Georgia Aquarium

Alice, a whale shark acquired by the Georgia Aquarium in 2006, has died. Photo: courtesy Georgia Aquarium

Alice, the whale shark who has been at the Georgia Aquarium since 2006, has died.

Aquarium veterinarians noticed changes in her behavior and bloodwork this month. On Sunday her problems became more severe.

Posting Monday on Facebook, the staff wrote “Yesterday, her condition worsened and despite our teams’ extraordinary efforts, she did not improve, and the only humane option was to euthanize her.”

Alice was the last of the four original whale sharks acquired by the aquarium after it opened in 2005. They were named after characters from the Jackie Gleason television show “The Honeymooners.”

“Alice came to us as a rescue from Taiwan, where she was destined for the seafood market,” according to the Georgia Aquarium’s post.

“She was our longest whale shark resident and contributed valuable information to the understanding of whale sharks, but most importantly, she was a larger-than-life ambassador for her species wowing guests from all corners of the globe.”

Delegates to the 3rd International Whale Shark Conference in 2013 pose for a group photo in the Georgia Aquarium’s Oceans Ballroom as one of the fish tank’s whale sharks swims by. Some 75 scientists and conservation officials from 20 counties attended the conference, which was aimed at expanding understanding of the big sharks in the wild. Credit: Jim Tharpe

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Ralph and Norton, the two males acquired in the same time period, both died in 2007. Both had stopped eating. A necropsy revealed Ralph had a perforated stomach, possibly caused by the PVC pipe that staff used to feed the whale.

Norton died later that year. Trixie, a female, died in 2020. Two more males, Yushan and Taroko, were acquired in in 2017.

The 10-ton whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean and are believed to be the biggest fish to have ever lived on the planet. They can grow to 61 feet in length.

Whale sharks feed on krill, plankton, and other tiny creatures by filtering their food from ocean water as they swim.