30 August 2023 is International Whale Shark Day - an awareness day which puts a spotlight on this iconic species, their importance to marine ecosystems and the vital need to conserve them. To celebrate, some of the team at Regaldive are sharing their favourite diving experiences with these gentle ocean giants.
Sales Consultant, Cath Bates
“When I worked as a dive guide in Sharm el Sheikh, we used to call whale sharks the Giant Spaceship Fish! Although ironically enough, the whale sharks passing through there were juveniles and usually no more than 4 or 5 metres in length.
We would have months in spring with more plankton than usual in the water - which would draw them in - or they would munch on schools of silversides at the warmer local dive sites. However, my best encounter was during decompression after a technical dive on Ras Za’atar in Ras Mohamed.
As my student and I ascended up the sheer wall from 55 metres towards the shallows, a lone spotty fellow joined us. As if mocking our attempts at perfect horizontal buoyancy, he turned, so his tail faced the depths and ascended with us. He did so without moving any part of his body that was designed for propulsion. All I could think was the age-old instructor adage of “breathe continuously and never hold your breath!”
It was a special moment to share our off-gassing with that mythical creature. As we hit 12 metres he opened his mouth, eyeballed us sarcastically and swam off with perfect horizontal buoyancy into the blue!”
Manager, Phil North
“I had to wait a long time to see my first whale shark.
Working as a dive guide and videographer in Thailand, where whale sharks are seen relatively frequently, I often heard the whoops of fellow divers with envy having missed the moment myself.
Then, one day, I exited the Cathedral Caves at Ko Haa to hear some urgent tank ringing in the distance. Instinct told me these weren’t the sounds of an instructor trying to get the attention of an errant student. I swam out into the blue a little, trying to follow the sound.
Then, emerging from the hazy distance, there it was. A whale shark, swimming right towards me! What a moment. A thrill I will never, ever, forget.”
Product Executive, Joanna Charter
“Spotting the elusive whale shark is a truly special sighting.
I’ve been lucky enough to see whale sharks in the Daymaniyat Islands (Oman), Isla Mujeres (Mexico), and Djibouti.
Each encounter has left me giddy with excitement, there's nothing more humbling than being in the presence of one of the ocean’s giants. These experiences have also left me either absolutely knackered from huffing and puffing down a snorkel, or in such sheer shock at actually seeing one that I’m unable to use my camera properly and miss the whole encounter.
While in Oman, I was so excited to see the whale shark that I jumped in without my fins, mask, snorkel, and camera! The crew of the Oman Explorer realised what I’d done before I did and were swift to get my camera to me just at the right moment to capture the special meeting, I am forever grateful to them!”
We feature a range of destinations where you can swim and snorkel with whale sharks around the world. You can also join us on an exciting Whale Shark Expedition in the Galapagos, where you’ll have the chance to dive with and learn from expert whale shark researcher, Sofía Green Iturralde. This week-long trip, aboard the Aqua Galapagos liveaboard, supports the research of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project.
Interested in diving with whale sharks? Our diving experts can help you choose a destination or plan your ideal diving holiday. Get in touch today.