Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The big sharks come to town!!!

Well the last week has been rather interesting with the South East wind stopping entirely only to be replaced two days later by a strong North Westerly accompanied by lots of rain and a change in currents which seems to have confused the resident whale sharks no end as they have moved off all over the place! Interestingly we also had sightings of the biggest sharks of the season so far, all of which were almost certainly adults….

The big sharks certainly impressed everyone! Photo Abi March

On the 15th of October we first had a sighting of a 9-10m whale shark that was joined six minutes later by an even larger male of around 10.5 m with very large claspers. David biopsied the female shortly afterwards with no reaction and both sharks were photo identified as being new to the Seychelles database (Female: sey.2009.041. Male: sey.2009.045).

On October 16th we had another pair of big boys… first was Chunky (sey.2009.035) a 7.8m male we had seen before and named Chunky due to his immense girth and the fact he has lost a great chunk of his 5th gill cover on his left side (so Chunky x 2?).

Here's Chunky! As well as a school of several hundred fusiliers! Photo Abi March

Chunky stayed with us for quite a while when he was joined by another 9m male shark (UT05-111). They circled each other for about 15 minutes then both sharks went off in opposite directions. During this encounter UT05-111 was biopsied which he disliked and quickly swam away. It is unusual for us to find adult sized sharks and all the interns were duly impressed by the scale of the differences between the usual 5-6 metre sharks and these ‘real sharks’….

Two 9+ m sharks circle each other for a few minutes to everyone's surprise!

What more surprises does the last few weeks of the 2009 season hold?

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