To encounter a whale shark on a dive, is rare and special. To see two on the same day in two different dive sites is absolutely remarkable. It happened yesterday, on a trip with the students from JESS (Jumeirah English Speaking School – Dubai). Most members of the group of 15 middle and high schoolers were on their first dive after receiving their open water certification. They were bubbling with enthusiasm. The swam with the largest fish in the sea, and did it twice in one day.
The trip to the dive site was on an older, slower and air-condition free dhow. A few people felt sea sick, most were feeling the heat mixed with anxiety. Shortly after we ascended from our first, rather uneventful dive, a group from a distance lets out screams of joy. It was Dawn, the group organizer. She had been swimming since 1991 and never encountered a whale shark.
Immediately, everyone on board, jumped into the water with masks and snorkels and headed in her direction. There it was, what a sight!!! a huge fish, gliding gracefully in large circular patterns a few meters underneath the surface. We swam with it for a few minutes before it took a corner away from Lima Rock.
The second sight was Um-elnatt, a few miles away from the first location. Shortly after descending, Connel, our dive leader points overhead, there it was, accompanied by a dozen Remora fish. It took a turn and came towards me, the view of its mouth open for filter feeding on plankton was brilliant.
The largest fish in the sea does not pose any threat to humans. It is gentle and can be playful with divers. swimming along side it gave me a sense of serenity and peace and a great appreciation for nature and its creator. Yet millions of sharks, whale sharks among them, are being slaughtered by humans annually, some to be consumed, others out of unfounded fear generated from by the media and Hollywood.
It would be sad if the boys and girls from JESS grow up to find they can no longer swim with whale sharks because they are all gone!
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