Wednesday 4 July 2012

whale shark sighting in Hong Kong

Last weekend I was out diving again in Hong Kong. When returning from one of the dives, one of the people on board called me over excitedly! An ipad got flashed out and he showed me an article on the SCMP website to point at an article with the unfortunate title "Family tells of terror after shark shuts down beaches"

SCMP gives a silly twist to the event and hooks into the fear of sharks in Hong Kong. A whale shark is a pretty harmless large fish, which feeds mainly on plankton or small fish. Attitude towards divers and swimmers is generally speaking friendly. You can find some more info at the wikipedia site of Whale Sharks. I can confirm this behaviour, in 2010 we went diving in Ahe, Papua, Indonesia to visit a "family" of whale sharks in  Cendrawasih bay. Upon jumping in the water, the whale sharks approached us curiously and sometimes it even looked like they wanted to play.

Got some photos from this trip up at this flickr set

Anyway, back to Hong Kong. A family went out sailing on the water when they spotted the fin. Normally the dorsal fins of sharks trigger a lot of panic, though when looking properly on the movie below you can actually see it is a tail fin. Silly to see shark alerts going up eveywhere as again, this shark (as most) does not have an aggressive nature at all. The "biggest incident" recorded with whale sharks was that someone was nearly sucked into the massive mouth of a whale shark whilst it was feeding. 

The sighting looks like a juvenile whale shark as it is only around 4 meters long. Nevertheless it must have been a magnificent sight to spot a whale shark in Hong Kong. The question remains, what was it doing here.