Whaleshark while snorkeling at Koh Haa
This Wednesday we were working on the Kon-Tiki boat as snorkeling guides, and we got our own groups to take care of.
We had 4 and 5 clients respectively. It's great to experience the progress you get by taking responsibility. The boat went to Koh Haa, which is one of our favourite places to snorkling at. Koh Haa means 5 islands but it is actually an archipelago of 6 islands. After the first stop we had seen lots of interesting fish, for example Moorish Idol, Parrotfish and 2 big moray eels.
And now to the big subject. WHALE SHARK! An experience we will never forget.
It was about 10 minutes left until we should jump into the water to snorkel, when the captain suddenly steers the boat in a different direction shouting "WHALE SHARK!". We all began to lean over the side of the boat to see the big shark. We all jumped into the water and began to snorkel around with this amazing creature. Everyone was very excited. The snorkelers where very lucky as it swam very close to the surface; so close that we even got to pull ourselves together so that our fins would not kick it.
We swam around with it for about 30 minutes before we continued our snorkel route. But as you can imagine it was very difficult to concentrate on other fish after you have seen the whale shark.
Once we came back to the boat no one could not stop smiling and everyone was overjoyed.
Some facts about the whale shark:
The whale shark is the largest living fish species. This shark eat mainly plankton, copepods and fish eggs, sometimes also smaller and larger fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and smaller tunas are added to the diet.
A whale shark can grow up to 15 metres long and weigh up to 36 tonnes. One of its main feature is the huge mouth that can grow up to 1.5 meters wide. The whale sharks live in tropical and temperate seas around the equator where the magpie makes its way. It swims mostly in the upper water layers but it can dive down to 700 meters of depth. The whale shark is still one of the oceans great mysteries. Little is known about its life cycle and behavior. Although it has existed for nearly 60 million years it was first discovered in 1828. The species is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (World Conservation Union).
The whale shark's color varies between individuals, usually they are greyish-black or dark brown with white or yellow spots.
This huge fish reach sexual maturity only at about 30 years of age and the female can carry over 300 embryos at a time in her womb. The eggs hatch already in the mother's belly and are then born alive.
The whale sharks usually live alone, but they can sometimes gather in large groups when there are plenty of plankton locally. This is usually appreciated by tourists and divers.
Occurrence and distribution of whale sharks is a strong indicator that shows how the oceans are doing. Where whale sharks are found in large numbers can be assumed that the ecosystem is healthy and in balance.
Human activities such as over-fishing, shark finning of whale sharks, catch and tourism are direct threats to the existence and survival of the whale sharks. It is still being traded for it's meat, fins and oil.
It has also been observed that tourism can have a negative impact on feeding behaviors, and that whale sharks can sometimes be injured by passing boats and boat engines.
Please click on the link and see the Kon-Tiki's new movie where you get a glimpse of a day on the boat.
Have a great day!
Caisa & Amanda