The study’s authors wrote: “The retraction distance was calculated to be approximately half the diameter of the eye, which is comparable to those of other vertebrates that are known to have highly retractable eyes.
“These highly protective features of the whale shark eye seem to emphasize the importance of vision for environmental perception, which contradicts the general, though poorly established, notion of low reliance on vision in this species.”
Some species of shark, like the carcharhinid and sphyrnid sharks, have a distinct third eyelid that protects the eyes during feeding.
Whale sharks, however, have fairly forward eyes close to their mouths, which can increase the risk of injury when feeding.
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