Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Whale(Shark) Of A Time

So the morning was a little overcast, we are moving into the “Short Rains” so that's not too surprising, and we were all prepared for it. When we got up we packed our bags with the usual double checking that we had warm clothes and waterproofs just incase we were caught by a short but sharp shower, then off on the boat we went.

The sea was a little choppy so we had to change our plans for the day and instead of going out deep looking for spinner dolphins we decided to head to transect four which is one of our more sheltered snorkel transects. In we jumped and after a few people complaining about the cold (it really really wasnt) we were off on our way. We saw loads of reef fish a lobster and many great corals.

-- Whale shark from surface (www.shark-pictures.com) --

On our way to Kisite, a sighting of Bottlenose dolphins had Edita and myself snap snapping away with cmaeras for photo-identification when suddenly Shafii our illustrious boat captain saw that the tourist dhow had something with them. “Something BIG” were his precise words, and we all started to get excited. Myself and Edita already at the front could see a large grey shadow like blur beneath the surface, and Shafii had spoken to the dhows driver who had confirmed our hopes. It was a Whale Shark!

As we got closer we realised just how big it was approximately 6-7 metres. And it was right there just off the bow to the boat. The whale shark is up to 46 feet (14 m), weighing up to 15 tons. The average size is 25 feet (7.6 m) long It is the largest fish in the world and although the largest fish in the ocean they are not predatorial towards humans. This enormous shark is a filter feeder and sieves enormous amounts of plankton to eat through its gills as it swims. It has a huge mouth which can be up to 4 feet (1.4 m) wide. Its mouth is at the very front of its head not on the underside of the head like in most sharks.

So this shark wasn't a giant for its kind, but it was certainly big enough for us! Danny had his underwater camera and he was able to lean over the side and get a little video footage of the shark as he decided to leave. The shark wasn't with us for long but it was long enough for us to snap a good shot of him before heading off out into deeper waters. The first sighting of a whale shark for GVI since 2007 and although brief was a heck of a sighting.