I want to swim with a Whale Shark

As The Occasional Traveller name implies, I’m also an Occasional Diver. It’s something I picked up in university 6 years ago and since then I’ve clocked about 20+ dives. It’s not a lot really, but I hope to dive more frequently in years to come! I’m hoping to make it an annual affair at least, even if it has to be a weekend thing!

So what I really want to see and/or dive with some time?


Yes, a Whale Shark!

I know the pro divers are all about discovering the small creatures and taking awesome macro shots, but seriously, do you know how tiny those things are when you’re down in the water? I never realize but you have to shove your camera until it’s practically touching the creature to get a decent shot, and if you’re in a group of underwater photography enthusiasts, it can be a pain in the ass having to wait your turn (ESPECIALLY if someone’s a selfish bastard and hogs the space until the damn shark swims away! True story!)

So yes, I still like seeing the big creatures. My sis passed me a copy of Asian Diver’s Big Blue Book after attending ADEX 2010, and Whale Sharks are 1 of 10 big creatures to dive with (the others being other sharks, whales, sea lions, dolphins and manta rays). Sadly, I’m 0 for 10, but this sure sounds like a fascinating list.

But I digress. Whale Sharks. They just sound absolutely enormous! They’re technically the largest type of shark (and thus the largest fish!) around, usually growing up to 10m long, but act more whale-like than shark-like in that they eat plankton rather than other fish.

Maybe it’s because I caught one of my dive instructor’s videos of a whale shark spotting, and everyone in the boat just jumping into the water with their snorkels to catch a glimpse of the gigantic beast. I’ve always wanted to see one! There was technically one in Cebu which we missed by a few days, sadly. But just seeing the awesome scale of the creature in the wild…

I mean Aquariums are great for seeing all the fish you want to see, under one roof, especially the rare ones. But there’s something special about spotting the same creature in the wild, without any cages or barriers between you and it (though I’ve seen enough Great White Shark documentaries to prefer being behind cage bars then, thank you.)

There is a website whaleshark.org, which documents all the whale sharks in the ocean by the spot patterns behind their gills (like fingerprints?), and where you can adopt a whaleshark too to help keep the site going. Sadly the whalesharks are given boring names like A-302, A-288 etc. Would they consider letting you name your whaleshark? Like I would call my Toby just because I could.

Imagine if you were out diving one day and you actually ran into your adopted whaleshark? How fabulous would that be! Considering these creatures live up to 100 years, you never know!

Picture from here

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