Dive number 32. Whale Shark. For those that dive I need not say more. I will however divulge.
A whale shark was spotted at the Chumphon Pinnacle dive site in the morning of our last day on Koh Tao, and as a result it seemed as though all of the island was heading out there in the afternoon. We arrived as the sixth boat. Not only did this mean a long swim to the buoy line, it also meant 60 odd divers in the water. Most of them were Koreans who seemed completely lost and kept crashing into each other. Despite being surrounded by bubbles and being kicked in the head several times it was worth it. After hearing a continual clanking of someones rattle (used to attract attention) I look all around me but could see nothing of interest (only upside down Koreans). Foolishly I didn’t look above me. If I had I would have spotted the Whale Shark swimming over my head. I looked up to see this…
The biggest fish in the sea. Come on! We saw the beast 4 times during the dive but it was impossible to get close due to the hordes of divers surrounding her. I was also too busy trying to take photos to actually look at the bugger.
After the dive we were on the boat elated at at least having seen one when the skipper started jumping around and shouting Whale Shark, Whale Shark and pointing. And there it was, coming towards the boat. Fins, mask and snorkel hastily fitted I jumped into the water (with my wet suit only half on) to find myself less than 2 metres in front of the docile beast. The next 30 minutes were just incredible. She swam in the immediate vicinity of our boat clearly enjoying the company of humans taking great interest in us and swimming right up to anyone in her path.
What an absolutely incredible creature. This one was only 3-4 metres long. Some reach 15 metres! Yet she dwarfed us all and was just so graceful under the water. Words cannot describe the experience. Neither can the photos. I will freely admit that I couldn’t get to sleep last night as I was like an excited child thinking the experience over and over.
Truly a perfect finish to our week on Koh Tao. All that remains to be done is register this Whale Shark’s sighting on Ecocean’s www.whaleshark.org.