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Whaleshark Report from LRCP 08

Whaleshark Report from LRCP, dec 08, written for www.coralcay.org.
Whaleshark
Whaleshark and Science Officer

The water was clear and calm like a silk blanket, bathed in light by an almost perfect full moon. With the mountains looming dark on either side, creating the perfect backdrop for our little adventure, we had ventured out and into the bay, a little too early in the morning for most. We were on a Whaleshark hunt, and everything was ready for the encounter, we all deep down had come out here to see.

Moonlight was exchanged by the slowly emerging sunlight, and after a while, the entire bay was bathed in an even more incredible light. Was it our expectations that ran wild, or was it realy this beautful? We had arranged to meet up with some local Whaleshark spotters, that would help us locate them. After an hour or so, we met up with the first, and trailed after them with the engine barely running, as not to disturp the water too much. We kept looking and looking out over the bay, for any sign of life. The fisherman-turned-spotter had his face more under water than above for more than an hour. But there was nothing to be seen, and our hopes started to sink into the depths. At some point after a few hours we finaly decided to jump off the boat and snorkel around a bit.

However, as to match our sinking morale, it had started to rain lightly, so only two of us went out, myself EL and the EO Naomi. I swam out and away from the boat, and were at about 10m of water. Diving down to get a close look at the coral and small schools of fish, I came across a large school of fusiliers. Normaly these fusiliers, would pass us franticly and in high speed when were were diving, so I was a bit surprised at them being so calm. If I sat there in the water without moving, they would come within a few meters of me. I kept circling around my self, to get a full look at the rather large school, that was now all around me. Amused by my silent play with the elements, I could hardly have imagined what would happen next.

Turning slowly to my left, there 15 meters from me, behind the school of fusiliers, a huge dark shadow, was slowly moving in from the deep. ”There can be no doubt Thomas, thats a Whaleshark!” Not realy believing my own eyes, i lifted my face out of the water and yelled ”Whaleshark!” towards the boat. No response, they didnt believe me!. When I looked down again and to my greatest of fears, this huge thing had turned, and was now coming directly towards me. With my face above water a second time, I heard myself yelling ”There is a **** Whaleshark here!” At this time Naomi had finaly put her face under water, and through her swiming goggles, clearly saw what I was seeing. She cried out in what could hardly be understood by anyone, and when Ariel our boat driver, put his face in the water too, and nodded, ”its true, there is a Whaleshark there!” Activity finaly stirred on the boat, and within a few seconds, everyone was overboard and in the water with masks.

Meanwhile, I watched how the Whaleshark surfaced, where I had been only a few seconds before, only the slightly panicked kicking with my feet, had saved me from what I thought would have been an otherwise direct hit with a Whaleshark. Now with the comfort of company we all swam out and dove down along this beast from the deep, giving high fives and yelling out in excitement. The Whaleshark circled, dove down and came up again, showing its true size to us all. After about 5-10 minutes, it kicked out with its huge tail, and slowly disappered, as it had arrived, into the blue deep. As if waking up from some dream, it was hard to believe what had just happened. Yes, the first encounter with a Whaleshark, is truly remarkeble, and I think none of us will forget this afternoon, in the company of a creature as little understood as the ocean itself.

Thomas Sindberg
Philippines 08-09

Se rejser til Filippinerne.

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