Snorkeling with the Whale Sharks
Trip Start Apr 04, 2009
17Trip End Apr 18, 2009
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It took about 30 minutes to get to the middle of the ocean where whale sharks typically swim around. It all happened so quick. The next thing I knew, the spotter shouted and pointed to a fin that was sticking out of the water. I felt the breathless excitement and the palpable fear from everyone on board. I myself was immobilized upon seeing the fin. The BIO asked us to put on our gears fast and to prepare to jump into the ocean. We seated next to the BIO at the edge of the boat. We sailed closer to the fin, and then, the BIO shouted JUMP! We jumped into the ocean and asked not to panic. We swam closer, but this time around, the fin had already disappeared
We headed up to the boat again and waited for the next butanding. We did not have to wait long. After a few seconds, the BIO said JUMP again, and then LOOK DOWN! Until now, it's still a mystery how can the BIOs accurately detect when to JUMP and when to LOOK DOWN with clockwork precision. Everytime he said look down, the butanding's face would be there. Although there's nothing on the surface of the water that would indicate its presence. I was just totally impressed with our BIO and spotter!
The second whale shark was much friendlier than the first one. It stayed with our group for at least 30 minutes, just circling around the water. Now, with more confidence, I was able to check out the face, the body and the tail. It was truly an out-of-this-world experience. Its face was so tame and friendly, and its body was soo big. I wish I were a decent swimmer as I could hardly keep up with the butanding's pace. I had to go up the boat again, rest and wait for my turn to snorkel with them again.
I was unable to capture really clear photos of the butandings, but I asked our BIO to take a video of the whale sharks using my underwater camera. I was ecstatic about the video, but there were portions of it that captured activities that were illegal, such as touching the whalesharks and obstructing its path so that it would stay longer with the tourists. The person who did it though was from another boat.
This is one activity every person with an adventurous spirit should do!