It was an early day today as we prepared to search for the elusive Whale Shark. Though the biggest fish in the ocean, they are notoriously rare and finding them let alone getting a chance to dive with them, is very hard. Nonetheless, we were not daunted and we rose at 6AM, even I didnâ€™t mind it this time, got our snorkel gear together and headed out on the hunt. About a half hour into the zodiac ride we saw them, 6 of them slowly going back and forth in the water, right in the middle of a huge ball of fish and plankton, about a half mile from the coast of Mafia Island. Yes, thatâ€™s rightâ€¦6 of them!!! The rarity of this experience is hard to express in words and everyone was instantly ecstatic.
We threw on our snorkel gear, no tanks necessary since they feed at the surface, and slowly slipped into the water right in the middle of the fray. By the way, for those of you who donâ€™t know and may be reading this wondering why we are getting in the water with a 26-foot shark; Whale Sharks feed only on tiny microscopic creatures and pose no threat to humans.
Of course, no shark poses much of a threat to humans, there are only about 5-8 shark attack fatalities a year worldwide and they are always a mistake, whereas we kill around 100 million sharks, mostly for a ridiculous and indulgent tradition in Chinese cultures of using their fins for soup. Indeed, when I was in Singapore I was taken to a restaurant and was horrified to see huge Whale Shark fins on display in the lobby (see blurry undercover photo attached). It was, as you can imagine, horrifying and I proceeded to lecture all the dignitaries at the lunch (of which we were guests) about the horrors of shark finning. Between you and me, I donâ€™t think anyone gave a crap but I tried.
Back to the matter at hand though, this morning and again this evening we had a once in a lifetime magical experience. All in all we spent about 2 hours as the Whale Sharks, staying at the surface, paid us no mind as we filmed and swam all around them. It is something I will never forget and I am still on a high about it.