Diving in the Maldives was epic mainly because… WHALE SHARKS! I’ve never seen them in the wild before this and I finally managed to see them on this trip!
They really are as amazing as you might imagine – HUGE, though the first two we saw were not very big, babies by whale shark standards, but the last one we saw was pretty big at around 8m in length at least.
The Maldives is a great place to see them – the waters in November are plankton rich, and while visibility isn’t as high because of that, that’s also prime whale shark season. We found our whale sharks at Maamigilli Out Reef in the South Ari Atoll – spending the afternoon after our first morning dive in the dhoni hunting for them along the reef.
‘Hunting’ basically comprises of our dive guides and boat men clustered on the roof of the boat, squinting out at the sea searching for whale sharks while the rest of us ready our fins, masks and snorkels. Lots of boats are out in the water with snorkelers and divers alike doing the same thing, so you’ve gotta hope that your boat comes across the whale sharks first before all the other boats descend.
Once there’s a shout, every one straps on their fins and masks and gets into position, all ready to jump in the water. And then it’s all JUMP! GOGOGO! and madness ensues as everyone plunges into the water and swims frantically towards the direction of the whale shark while the people on the boat shout directions. Getting this footage was not easy at all – a lot of shots had to be cut, and whale sharks are no joke to keep up with because even though they look like they’re swimming very slowly, their sheer size means a harder swish of their tail and diving deep and they’ll disappear in a flash!
As you can see, with the sheer size of the whale shark, it’s pretty hard to get decent pictures of them if you don’t have a wide angle lens! I spent most of my time taking videos though, so have to give huge props to dive buddy P for the great and clear pix she took!
Here’s a video that I cut from the video footage taken with a combination of the Sony Action Cam HDR AS-15 that Sony kindly loaned me, and my trusty old Canon S90. I was experimenting with the Sony video camera then, so sadly it’s not set on the wide angle lens, otherwise I think I might have managed some more epic shots. Am still quite happy with how it turned out overall though, do let me know what you think!