Whale Sharks - Strait of Gubal
23/06/10Chilling with BSOUP members on Whirlwind we were treated to a lucky encounter with four whalesharks.
Was just waking up, vaguely wondering where the usual morning knock was, when the boat's engines were cut. Walked on the deck, the words whaleshark were still wafting on the still air as I ran downstairs to wake Paula.
Quickly into the rib with mask, snorkel, and fins, there was no time for a snorkel keeper, just shoved it under the strap. The rib while keeping it's distance put us in the path of an oncoming fish and we enjoyed a nice morning swim in the strait without another boat in sight. Only thing better than the first coffee.
The water had an oily quality and the morning light was penetrating the depths in the 30 meter plus vis. After tucking into to the lee of a nearby island to avoid a strong norther over night, we were very lucky to see these largest of all fish without a ripple on the sea.
After being able to say I had now at least seen a whaleshark in the water I had my eye on the Whirlwind with some dim hope I might actually get back and do the quickest port change, strobe removal in history and get back in the water while the four whalesharks where still in the vicinity.
In under less than 5 minutes I was back in the water and with the sun behind me, and spent the next 30 minutes taking pictures of these amazing fish. You have to swim hard to keep up with these gentle giants.
I was elated to have had the opportunity to see these fish up close without the distraction of the normal crowds that often follow.
We're grateful to the captain of the Whirlwind for stopping the boat as long as he did, it made the trip memorable.
Thanks to Alex Mustard for the top tip on dialling in your auto focus and then disabling it, this enabled me to get tack sharp shots everytime. You'll find if you don't do this, the lens will spend more time hunting, you'll likely end up with 'out-of-focus' images or miss the shot(s) entirely.
Seems bizarre only 9 days earlier we were bobbing around in our dry suits in the Atlantic with Basking sharks off the coast of cornwall.