Swimming with whale sharks

Whale sharks are the worlds largest fish up to 12m long (same length as Timshel) and are found in large numbers around St Helena in January and February, it is thought that they may breed there. They are docile filter feeders and go about near the surface with their huge mouths gaping feeding mainly on plankton and fish eggs. Each fish has many Remoras or sucker fish attached. You can go on a boat trip to snorkel with these giant sharks, the interaction is quite regulated, only so many swimmers per fish, time limited to 45 minutes, and you must be at least 3m away, 4m from the tail. But the sharks don’t seem to have been told this, they are curious and tend to follow you so you are often frantically swimming backwards to get out of the way; even though you know they are filter feeders it is quite alarming when you find yourself close to the mouth. We found a group of 3 sharks, often you had a fish to yourself, it was a fantastic experience – and the water was even warm.

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