Whale Shark encounters have been a rare spectacle this year but since mid October Whale shark sightings at Sail Rock are increasing.
Almost every other day we hear from the dive team, after returning from the dive, “again a whale shark”. All of our Open Water students either had the luck on their first dive or their last dive to meet the whale shark. Even some Discover Scuba Divers not only had the unique experience of diving but even encountering this big fish!
Whale sharks are not uncommon in the Gulf of Thailand. Most whale sharks gather in the warm waters around Sail Rock and Chumphon Pinnacle. However, we have seen them already in the Angthong Marine Park and at Koh Tao dive sites. Even on the coast of Koh Phangan, we came across some whale sharks.
Encounters with whale sharks are dances with giants. They are the largest fish in the sea, and the friendliest of all shark species. They are not frightened by the humans who intrude into their domain for the chance at that hallelujah moment, when you come face to face with a large-mouthed behemoth that has no intention to do you harm. Its gentle movements assure you you’re safe, and then you’re overcome by gratitude — that you once shared the same space on the same earth at the same moment with such a huge animal.
The Whale shark Rhincodon typus the biggest fish in the sea! Thought to reach up to a possible 20 meters and 34 tonnes it seems difficult to believe that Whale Sharks feed on microscopic plankton rarely more than 3 mm in size. The combination of its immense size and characteristic checkerboard pattern makes the Whale Shark almost unmistakable and completely unforgettable.
At birth Whale Sharks are around 55 – 64 cm in length and sexual maturity is reached at about 6 m for males and 8 m for females. Although not known for certain, it is estimated that Whale Sharks do not reach sexual maturity for 30 years and live for anywhere between 60 and 100 years.
Diving with whale sharks in their natural habitat is a breathtaking and rewarding experience. It was one of the most beautiful birthday gift for our diver Isabelle!
If you are on Koh Phangan, don’t miss to dive with this great fish. As they come usually very close to the surface it’s a life time experience for snorkelers as well.