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14 idyllic places to swim with Whale Sharks

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It’s International Whale Shark Day today, 30th August – a day dedicated to celebrating the biggest fish in the ocean. These much-loved gentle giants are amazing to swim with and you can find them at top diving and snorkeling destinations around the world. Here is our round up of 14 idyllic places to swim with whale sharks.

1) Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia

This famous dive destination in Raja Ampat is renowned for the unique relationship between the whale sharks and fishermen that live there. The fishermen give fish to the whale sharks to bring luck and there are numerous resident whale sharks there year-round. The sharks are used to people in the water, meaning you can swim alongside them to your heart’s content.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Both.

Experience needed: Intermediate if you plan to enjoy the other scuba diving highlights of Cenderawasih Bay.

When to go: July to September

2) Djibouti

This little-known dive destination at the southwestern tip of the Red Sea is crowd-free and offers the chance to dive with juvenile whale sharks. Djibouti’s rich waters attract whale sharks in numbers to the coastline each year, where divers and snorkelers commonly see them.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Both, though mostly snorkeling excursions.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: Whale sharks can be seen all year, though September, October and February offer the best conditions for peak numbers.

3) Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres, a picture-perfect island in the Caribbean Sea, is Mexico’s best-known whale shark diving hotspot and has one of the highest concentrations of whale sharks in the world. Various locals operators will take you snorkeling with the sharks, and you can enjoy some of Mexico’s best diving and snorkeling at nearby Cancun and Cozumel.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: May to September. July and August are peak whale shark season.

4) Socorro Islands, Mexico

The remote Socorro Islands off the coast of Mexico take time to get to, but they host more ocean giants than you could ever hope to see, including whale sharks, humpback whales, giant Pacific manta rays and bottlenose dolphins. This is Mexico’s premier liveaboard diving destination and doesn’t disappoint for marine megafauna and whale shark fans.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Scuba dive.

Experience needed: Intermediate and experienced divers.

When to go: November and December for whale sharks.

5) The Maldives

Diving in the Maldives is synonymous with whale sharks and they are found at this idyllic destination all year. South Ari Atoll’s waters are busy with juvenile whale sharks, though Huvadhoo and Thaa atolls are also great places to snorkel and dive with these spotty giants.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Both.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: All year.

6) Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Hundreds of whale sharks gather at Ningaloo Reef each year, making it Australia’s prime destination for snorkeling with whale sharks. As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage area with stunning dive sites and zero crowds, the Ningaloo Coast also has seasonal sharks, humpback whales, mantas and sea turtles in abundance.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: March to June for whale sharks.

7) Thailand

If you want an affordable dive destination with the chance to see whale sharks, go diving in Thailand. Whether you dive at world-famous Richelieu Rock in the Andaman Sea or explore around the Gulf of Thailand’s many islands, there are numerous world-class dive sites and a good chance you will see whale sharks.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Scuba dive.

Experience needed: There are dives for all experience levels in Thailand.

When to go: February to April for whale shark season at Richelieu Rock.

8) Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Known as the ‘Little Galapagos’, Cocos Island in Costa Rica has fantastic shark diving with huge schools of hammerheads. This incredible island’s rich waters also host whale sharks, abundant manta rays, reef sharks and dolphins.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Scuba dive.

Experience needed: Intermediate and experienced divers.

When to go: June to November for whale sharks.

9) Mafia, Tanzania

Mafia Island in Tanzania has one of the longest whale shark seasons globally and is home to more than 180 resident whale sharks. The whale sharks are seen year-round and feed in the shallow waters off the western side of Mafia Island, making it easy to go swimming with them.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: October to March for whale sharks.

10) Tofo Beach, Mozambique

Whale sharks roam the plankton-rich waters off Tofo Beach in Mozambique all year long. As many as 50 whale sharks can be seen at any one time and there are numerous mantas, dolphins and sea turtles to find at this picture-perfect beach destination. Way off the beaten track, this is a hidden whale shark hotspot.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: October to March for whale sharks.

11) The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos diving is paradise for nature fans and offers endless highlights above and below the water line, including encounters with whale sharks. Wolf and Darwin Islands are the best places to dive with whale sharks, where you will find them at the surface and at depth.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Scuba dive.

Experience needed: Intermediate and experienced divers.

When to go: June to October for whale sharks.

12) Seychelles

If you want to combine whale sharks encounters with sailing calm seas, coral reef diving and water sports, visit the Seychelles. These stunning islands are perfect for families, honeymooners and adventurous souls alike, and have plenty of whale sharks off Mahé Island.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: October for whale sharks.

13) Utila, Honduras

Sitting within the expansive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Utila’s waters are teeming with tropical fish life and host whale sharks all year. This tiny island is famous as the Whale Shark Capital of the Caribbean and offers a range of whale shark swimming safaris.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: Year-round, with peak whale shark season from March to April.

14) Nosy Be, Madagascar

Madagascar is a relatively new whale shark hotspot that came to the world’s attention in 2018, when researchers discovered juvenile whale sharks swim to Madagascar to feed. These charming sharks are seen primarily around the small island of Nosy Be, in northwest Madagascar.

Snorkel or scuba dive? Snorkel.

Experience needed: All experience levels.

When to go: September and December for whale sharks.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the largest professional business-based training agency in the world. For over 50 years now, SSI has provided the ultimate training experience for millions of certified divers, not only in Recreational Scuba, but in every training category: Freediving, Extended Range, Rebreather Diving, Mermaid, Swim and Lifeguard.

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The Ocean Cleanup to Complete 100th Extraction Live from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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the ocean cleanup
  • The Ocean Cleanup marks 100th extraction of plastic pollution from the Pacific Ocean by livestreaming entire cleaning operation from start to finish.
  • Occasion brings together supporters, partners, donors and followers as the project readies its cleanup technology for scale-up.
  • Founder and CEO Boyan Slat to provide insight on the plans ahead.

The Ocean Cleanup is set to reach a milestone of 100 plastic extractions from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Extraction #100, scheduled for 28 or 29 May 2024, will be the first ever to be livestreamed direct from the Pacific Ocean, allowing supporters and partners around the world to see up close how the organization has removed over 385,000 kilograms (nearly 850,000 lbs) of plastic from the GPGP so far – more than double the bare weight of the Statue of Liberty.

the ocean cleanup

The mission of The Ocean Cleanup is to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the non-profit project employs a dual strategy: cleaning up legacy floating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the world’s largest accumulation of floating plastic), while stopping the flow of plastic from the world’s most polluting rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup captured its first plastic (the first ‘extraction’) in the GPGP in 2019 with System 001, following years of trials and testing with a variety of concepts. Through System 002 and now the larger and more efficient System 03, the organization has consistently improved and optimized operations, and is now preparing to extract plastic trash from the GPGP for the 100th time.

the ocean cleanup

Extraction #100 will be an interactive broadcast showing the entire extraction procedure live and in detail, with insight provided by representatives from across The Ocean Cleanup and partners contributing to the operations.

This is an important milestone in a key year for The Ocean Cleanup.’ said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We’ve come a long way since our first extraction in 2019. During the 2024 season, with System 03, we aim to demonstrate that we are ready to scale up, and with it, confine the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the history books.

the ocean cleanup

The livestream will be hosted on The Ocean Cleanup’s YouTube channel and via X. Monitor @theoceancleanup for confirmed timings.

www.theoceancleanup.com

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Book Review: Plankton

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Plankton: A Worldwide Guide by Tom Jackson and Jennifer Parker

This is a book that jumps off the shelf at you. The striking front cover demands that you pick it up and delve further, even if you may not have known you wanted to learn more about the most diminutive life in our ocean, plankton!

Small it might be. Much of the imagery in the book has been taken under huge magnification. Revealing stunning beauty and diversity in each scoop of “soup”. There is lots to learn. Initial chapters include interesting facts about the different vertical zones they inhabit, from sunlight to midnight (the darkest and deepest areas). I loved finding out more about the stunning show that divers oft encounter on night dives – bioluminescence.

The black water images are wonderful. So this is a book you can have as a coffee table book to dip in and our of. But, these tiny organisms are also vital to our very survival and that of all the marine life we love. They provide half the oxygen produced on our planet. They are also responsible for regulating the planets climate. And for a shark lover like me – they are food for charismatic sharks and rays like the Basking Shark and Manta Ray, along with a huge number of other species. This book contains great insight into their biology, life cycles, migration, and how the changes in currents and sea temperatures affects them.

This is a book that is both beautiful and packed with information about possibly the most important group of organisms on our planet. Anyone interested in the ocean should have it one their shelves.

What the publisher says:

Plankton are the unsung heroes of planet Earth. Passive drifters through the world’s seas, oceans, and freshwater environments, most are invisible or very small, but some are longer than a whale. They are the global ocean’s foundation food, supporting almost all oceanic life, and they are also vitally important for land-based plants, animals, and other organisms. Plankton provides an incomparable look at these remarkable creatures, opening a window on the elegance and grace of microscopic marine life.

This engaging book reveals the amazing diversity of plankton, how they belong to a wide range of living groups, and how their ecology, lifestyles, and adaptations have evolved to suit an enormous range of conditions. It looks at plankton life cycles, the different ways plankton feed and grow, and the vast range of strategies they use for reproduction. It tracks where, how, and why plankton drift through the water; shares perspectives on migrations and population explosions or “blooms” and why they happen; and discusses the life-sustaining role of plankton in numerous intertwined food webs throughout the world.

Beautifully illustrated, Plankton sheds critical light on how global warming, pollution, diminishing resources, and overexploitation will adversely impact planktonic life, and how these effects will reverberate to every corner of our planet.

About the Authors:

Tom Jackson is a science writer whose many popular books include Strange Animals and Genetics in MinutesJennifer Parker is a zoology and conservation writer and the author of several books. Andrew Hirst is a leading expert on plankton whose research has taken him around the world, from the Antarctic to Greenland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Hardcover

Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691255996

Published: 9th April, 2024

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