So it’s day three here on the Deli, and so far we’re off to a slow start. After five trips out in the skiff, we haven’t come across a single caudal fin… even with a team of experienced spotters on board (and Savi)! We are all still very hopeful that our spotty friends will join the party soon so we can start getting some individuals identified and added to our shark database. However don’t fret, it has not been a completely dry start and last night we had a very exciting surprise…
We had installed a powerful LED light at the back of the boat earlier in the evening to see if we could attract some plankton and ultimately a whale shark. After a very quite day, I was secretly unoptimistic so didn’t get too excited about the prospect and after hours of watching fusiliers and a couple of swimming crabs squabbling under the light we decided to call it a day and go to bed.
Obviously the key to spotting sharks is lying on your back with your eyes closed, because that’s exactly when one appeared and it was around 10pm, just as Savi and I had fallen asleep on the deck, that we were swiftly awoken to cries of ‘whale shark!’.
We woke immediately when we heard the commotion and stumbled out of bed to check it out. As we peered over the back of the boat, there it was, the first whale shark I have seen in almost a year, lit from above in a sea of darkness. After the initial awe wore off it was all systems go. In a sleepy haze I grabbed a torch and fumbled around the deck trying to find my equipment whilst not waking the crew. The next challenge was safely leaving the boat as the usual stepladder was raised. This involved clambering under the rails and onto the adjacently parked skiff, not the most graceful of actions but at least it was dark! Once we had made it off the boat we were in the water like a flash, as we didn’t know if the shark would stick around.
|The night shark!|
We managed to get the left side, but as it dived fairly pronto we were unable to sex it. The encounter only lasted a couple of seconds but it was an unforgettable experience swimming with the worlds largest fish at night, something I never thought I would be lucky enough to do.
Fingers crossed that that was not the last shark we will see, and let’s hope the next couple of days are a bit more productive before we all lose our minds!!