W is for whale shark – a recent
College whale shark trip
(click picture to enlarge)
By Anna Markstam & Susie AttfieldUp until recently the sighting of a whale shark – whilst diving off the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt – was a rare and exciting experience, envied by those who heard guides continually declaring “it was here this morning/yesterday/last week”.
But this season, all has changed – much to the amazement of divers whale sharks have become a daily sight all along the local coastline.
It is these regular sightings and the photographic opportunities they have provided that have prompted staff at Red Sea Diving College to work in partnership with the Whale Shark Trust to help identify, track and provide information on these friendly giants.
Traditionally sightings are rare and the identification of individual animals is therefore difficult. However, these regular sightings allow the collection of much photographic evidence providing many angles from which to identify specific individuals.
So far we have identified at least 4 different whale sharks in the area. We can tell this from distinctive markings such as body scars and missing tail tips.
Whale sharks are filter-feeding plankton eaters and can grow up to 12 metres long. It is assumed that this year’s exceptionally prolific plankton bloom has brought them to the area in much larger numbers than usual. There has also been many more sighting of Manta Rays than in previous years.
The Whale Shark Trust has provided the Red Sea Diving College with information on safe interaction with these stunning creatures, ensuring that divers and guides can enjoy the privilege of a sighting whilst ensuring both they and the animal are left unharmed by the experience.
It is with this in mind, that staff at Red Sea Diving College are requesting photos or video footage of any sightings in Sharm this year to add to the Whale Shark Trusts’ database.
If you were lucky enough to spot, photograph or video whale sharks on a recent trip, please forward the information including as much detail as possible to:firstname.lastname@example.org