Friday, October 22, 2010
Whale Shark season is here!
Well it’s official, the Whale Sharks are back! First sighting of a single adult just over a week ago, two more at the start of the week and then six spotted yesterday. Now that they are appearing in greater numbers the chances of seeing them obviously increase. Between now and early April we should be seeing more and more of these beautiful, gentle giants. They are attracted here by the plankton that starts to appear in the Mafia Channel from September onwards. We have actually seen them here year round, especially when there are young as the channel appears to act as a nursing ground – but the odds increase during the Kaskasi (north-east monsoon season)
This species, despite its size, does not pose significant danger to humans. Whale sharks are actually quite gentle and can play with divers. Divers and snorkelers can swim with this giant fish without risk, apart from unintentional blows from the shark’s large tail fin.’
‘The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark, the largest living fish species. The largest confirmed individual was 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) in length. The heaviest weighed more than 36 tonnes (79,000 lb), but unconfirmed claims report considerably larger whale sharks. This distinctively-marked fish is the only member of its genus Rhincodon and its family, Rhincodontidae (called Rhinodontes before 1984), which belongs to the subclass Elasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes. The shark is found in tropical and warm oceans, lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. The species originated about 60 million years ago. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, microscopic plants and animals, although the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish.