Yesterday, while on a staff day trip (yes I know we are not staff) to some rare dive sites, we spotted and swam with a WHALE SHARK. It happened by sheer chance. Because of the political situation and it being so quite here on the island, West End Divers arranged a day trip for its staff and few customers. What a day it turned out to be. We got halfway to our intended dive site when the weather picked up and we had to turn the boat around. On the way back some of the staff spotted a spoiler which is basically some birds circling a school of fish, a sure sign of a feeding dolphin or whale shark – lucky for us it turned out to be a whale shark.
Most of our crew have never seen one. Christy, a local Honduran dive master, had not seen one since she was snorkeling at the aged of 15, the club owner has been living on the island for 20 years and has never seen one. It was a first for most of the other staff as well. As you can imagine, the excitement was truly unreal.
Diving in the various countries en route we were always just out of whale season, and even then we would have been luck to spot one. I read these few paragraphs on a scuba website and though I’d share them with you. It really highlights just how lucky we were.
Spotting the elusive whale shark is the high point in the careers of many divers. Yet many can go their whole lives without ever seeing this majestic beast.
What is a Whale Shark?
The whale shark, or Rhincodon typus, is the largest fish in the sea and not a whale. It is a cartilaginous fish like any other shark and breathes through gills. It is also massive – it can grow over 12 meters in length and weigh up to 15 tons. Despite its massive size the whale shark is a gentle giant. It is a filter feeder with tiny teeth that play no role in feeding. This large fish poses no threat to a diver as it eats only plankton, krill, small fish, and jellyfish.
Although their migration patterns are poorly understood the following dive sites are well known for whale shark sightings. Top four places to see whale sharks
- Richelieu Rock and Hin Daeng in Thailand
- Ningaloo Reef in Australia
- Utila Island Off of Honduras
- Just off the Seychelles Islands
We were snorkeling, so we both got to see it. I was so close I could have bitten its tail, surreal.