April 23, 2010 3 Comments
When diving with the whale sharks at Ahe, you don’t just see one swimming by but they stay at the same location for hours. Sometimes we encounter a few (2-3) but if you are lucky it is teaming with whale sharks.. record stands at 10 individuals during one dive. The reason for them staying at one spot is because they like to suck on the nets of the soft net fishing boats. These boats go out fishing at night using bright lights to attract the bigger fish. They use smaller fish to attract even more. The smaller fish are kept in a big net under the boat and the whale sharks swim up to these nets and start sucking on them. We don’t yet know why. .is it because they can suck the small fish through the maze, is it because the plankton concentration is higher? We have yet got to find out. Here are some pictures of the whale sharks in action…. Ps.. we have found out that the two days after full moon we don’t encounter whale sharks / reason is very simple, because then there is another big ‘light’ in the sky and the boats don’t go out fishing using their lamps. The days after full moon also the visibility gets worse (see the difference in water color in the pictures). Normally we do get up to 50 meters!! We have now set up a partnership with various organisations to find out more about the behaviour of these magnificent animals. Mike and I will stay on one of these fishing boats for a couple of days to see if we can find out more and the dive team will start a whale shark identifying project to see if we can understand how large the whale shark population is and if some of them have been seen in other parts of the world before. More will follow in the course of June. What is also very interesting to see is their behaviour when we are diving with them. It is a policy around the world that snorkling with whale sharks is prefered above diving because the whale sharks are afraid of the bubbles. We see that around here it is completely different. They swim into the bubbles on purpose because they somehow like the feeling, they will even try to ‘gulp’ the bubbles with their mouths. The whale sharks come up to you very close as long as you stay very calm and relaxed and don’t chase them as some torpedo. We see that when we don’t interfere with their behaviour and keep our cool they come up to us. They check us out to around one meter in front of us and then gently choose direction.