Monday, October 29, 2012

Whale Shark Reprise...

Intern Maddy describes the joys of finding sharks after four shark-less weeks.....

Just as we had resigned ourselves to the fact that the whale sharks had fallen out with us and decided to abandon the Seychelles entirely, a call from Neil changed everything. A lonesome shark was spotted on a morning survey flight, and while the pilot could not find the shark again when they returned later in the flight, and while we did not take a boat out to look for it that afternoon, our hope was restored.  Indeed, hope burgeoned when we learned the Save Our Seas team had found the shark again later in the day, and when the pilot had a repeat sighting the next day our excitement was uncontrollable.  Indeed, this first glimpse of a large shadow beneath the surface of the water foreshadowed five fantastic days of sharking.
That first spotty shadow was such a relief!!

We were in our element, with sharks galore! We had nervous sharks that didn’t hang around long and several sharks that wouldn’t leave us alone. This isn’t just a charming experience but also gives us chance to collect loads of data and take lots of photos. 
Hello.... did you miss me?

Some even stuck around with us so long that several groups of people got the chance to swim with them! This is something we call “hand-balling”. It means swapping one group out and putting another in. As the Whale shark encounter code states that we should only ever have 8 people in the water with the shark at one time. This can prove to be a bit difficult when you have an inquisitive male shark that wants to investigate you. But it is rather amusing to watch the Benny Hill style sketch unfold before you, with sharks following people and people following sharks. 
They were even sneaking round behind the boat...

This week was nothing short of spectacular, the radio was constant with news of the magical spotty creatures popping up everywhere! At one point, just as the shark I was with disappeared into the depths, I saw a shadow looming in the distance and was soon approached by another, without ever leaving the water. We experienced moments we will never forget, even being fortunate enough to see a couple of Manta rays! 

Lots of happy people making whale shark faces, even though our youngest isn't too sure about it!

The boat was filled with joyful faces and we were delighted to share some very close encounters with our favourite fish! Peaking at a total of 11 encounters in one day, with our longest lasting 35 minutes!! (A very friendly young chap indeed!). 
Back in business with lots of photos to ID... Whoopeee!

We have certainly had our hands full with some very successful shark trips, as well as having lots of data to analyse and are very happy to finally be busy with shark work! 

Maddy Cole, 2012  whale shark intern

No comments: