Encounter with a Gentle Giant – A Whaleshark

Oct 12, 2019 Ocean Stories

A few days ago while diving, our Ocean Stories team members and two guests had a wonderful surprise: a whale shark came to greet them.

Whale shark sightings are not so common in Baa Atoll, especially on a SCUBA dive. When it does happen, it is always a very special and exciting moment for our lucky guests.

Whale sharks are the largest shark species alive today and the largest fish in the sea. The average size of adult whale sharks is about 9.8 m (32 ft), but several individuals over 18 m (59 ft) in length have been reported.

Like their distant cousins the manta rays, whale sharks are filter feeders and spend their time swimming in tropical seas looking for concentration of zooplankton, including copepods, krill, fish eggs and small squid or fish, to snack on.

When a whale shark finds zooplankton, it swims straight to it with its mouth wide open and filters the microscopic food particles by expelling the water through their gills when closing their mouths.

Whale sharks visit Baa Atoll waters from May to November during the Southwest Monsoon. In this period, the wind and currents bring a high concentration of plankton to the Atoll, which attracts hungry whale sharks and manta rays.

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