Whaleshark, the largest fish in the world but what do you do when a Whaleshark appears on the dive site and just wants to play like a 6 month old puppy…..
Day 1 of our trip and we start out with some easy diving at Hideaway Bay followed by West of Eden, 2 great dives before hitting the more adventurous Elephant Head Rock after lunch.
As usual the briefings comprise of the dive site, what we are likely to see and of course the swim through’s which are always good fun. Personally, I always cover a short advisory brief with regards to Pelagic sightings at Elephant Head Rock and beyond just in case something unexpected rocks up but I had also been told of Frog fish sightings by another member of staff from the previous trip. relaying this information to my guests we decide to get our macro eyes in focus and see if we can find them too.
We head to the dive deck, don our gear, the captain puts on his skillful handbrake turn and sounds the air horn, time to dive!
Descending along the gradual slope of the main rock we scour the 2 main cracks for aforementioned little beasties; ignoring the Boxfish, Gobies, various damsels and the odd Trigger Fish we painstakingly cover a significant amount of area. To our dismay the Frogfish where clearly not home so we continued to descend and head through the main valley towards the deeper swim-through. Just as we pass the exit of the valley the water becomes alive with the audio from tank bangers and rattles, instinctively we scour to see what all the fuss is about and low and behold the Whaleshark silhouette is heading our way some 10m shallower ready to blot out the shards of sun.
She passes over us and disappears off into the distance behind further rock formations and I quickly whip round and ask my guests if they want to continue or wait. We wait for a further ten minutes and then decide its time to move on. As we had already been submerged for sometime we completed the first swim-through and headed up and over the next rock formation, still with one eye to the sky and the other looking into the blue. She’s back and by this time a number of other dive groups had arrived in the same location.
Bubbles everywhere, fins flapping speedily with cameras held high trying to capture the moment it all became a little frantic. Having dived with many Whaleshark before, I did start to consider that the commotion may actually be stressing her out; this feeling soon subsided as it became very noticeable that we had indeed met a 6m+ underwater puppy! All she wanted to do was play. Nudging divers, chasing divers, I don’t think Instructor kayo has ever been mistaken for a sardine before (albeit she is tiny) but she almost became fish food. She stayed until we could stay no more. Even as we broke the surface our boat boys could still see her around us.
Everyone on the boat was elated, the atmosphere was electric with a number of divers having their first ever dive with a Whaleshark, particularly one guest who has over 2000 dives and works in the dive industry; Alan, you can tick that box now as can Kurt, a nice little bonus on top of logging his 100th dive during the trip.
A huge thanks goes out to Mr Sakaizumi & Mr Yumoto for the photographs (which have been registered on whaleshark.org for research analysis).
A short clip of the action can be viewed on our YouTube Channel
We only had one problem now; It’s only Day 1, how on earth do we top that!?!?