Ask an avid diver about the creatures they long to encounter on one of their dives and I can almost bet my money that seeing or diving with a whale shark is right up their on their list along with manta rays. Ask a diver who has been lucky enough to encounter one and you’ll be met with a speechless diver fumbling for words or a breathless description. Scuba diving with one of these gentle giants is one of the Top 10 Dives to experience before you die.
Whale sharks are filter feeding sharks that grow to an impressive length of about 12.2 m (40 ft) and can weigh upto 13.6 tonnes. Only called a whale due to it’s massive stature, the whale shark is actually a fish and not a mammal and it holds the record for being the largest living fish on the planet.Whale sharks are believed to have originated about 60 million years ago and have an average life span of 70 years.
With white spot much like stars on the back of this massive yet magnificent fish, whale sharks are gentle and people friendly creatures unlike its other shark relatives. An absolute joy to dive or snorkel with they are quite an attraction to divers in dive destinations around the world. A fan of tropical and warm oceans encounter with these gentle giants are common in places around the world like the Philippines, Thailand, off the Seychelles, Christmas Island, South Africa, Mozambique, Belize, Honduras, Mexico and Western Australia. Many dive operators in these regions offer special whale shark diving tours during the seasons sightings are common. The chances of seeing a whale shark in around Phuket in Thailand is very high between February and May every year.
Swimming with a whale shark is an experience of a lifetime and a must do for any diver. So there next time you’re looking for an adventure holiday put diving with the largest fish on the planet on that list and make sure to check it off in this lifetime!
*Image Credits: photos by Marcel_Ekkel on flickr