Saturday, December 10, 2016

Djibouti December 2016

Well this may be a bit unexpected, but here we are again in Djibouti not knowing what to expect considering the dismal numbers of encounters we had this last January. We set off with high hopes as we decided to come a month earlier since shark numbers had been higher in December the last couple of years; let’s just say we were not disappointed!

In the first couple of days alone we were back in our element with sharks popping up all over the place displaying a myriad of behaviours. Anything from vertical, Ram, suction, or active surface feeding to swimming, diving, or just being a delightful happy chappy! 
Just hanging around with a few friends
So nice to be swimming with sharks again!
 We were pleased as punch to discover the sharks had returned as this meant more time in the water and less stressful, aching, sun beating times on the Skiff. The spotters gleefully grasped the sides of the vessel, pulled themselves in and rattled all the information they could  to the recorder before jumping back in for the next encounters. 

Though the week was incredible and we revel in every encounter, just a few stand out for the blog readers. The first of which of which is a night shark!!!! All those exclamation points are necessary as it was everything we had heard, read and hoped it was. 

A massive LED light was hung from the ladder off the back of the Deli which accumulated quite a large amount of plankton all trying to fit in the beam yielding a vortex of tiny critters. After an evening of mirth, laughter regarding the return of the spotted fish, one of them decided to take an interest into the aforementioned vortex. “WHALE SHARK” was shouted and individuals either rushed to the edge of the boat to view the event or to their cabins for a quick change into swimming atire. Long story short, this individual decided to stick around and pirouette up the vortex, very much enjoying the meal until 11 o’clock at night! Photographers and whale shark enthusiasts alike were in the water or on the boat staring and mesmerized as the shark unknowingly put on a show many will never forget. 

The night shark investigates the 'vortex' under the light. Photo Warren Baverstock

The second “important” encounter if you will involves one shark who had a terrible run in with some fishing gear. This line had three different hooks and had wrapped around the pectoral fin of a large shark effectively acting as a cheese slicer. David’s PhD student had alerted us regarding this sharks unfortunate accident so we borrowed a divers knife ready for the next encounter. Freya had gone into the water on a standard encounter only to pop up quickly and excitedly mentioning the first drop of the afternoon session had been the injured shark! Rushing into the water to hopefully aid the shark from further damage to the fin (the hooks were well embedded into the flesh causing the dragging line to slowly tear into the pectoral fin causing significant damage to the appendage) so the first move was to remove the dragging line. 

The injured shark with several of the hooks disengaged and the line trailing from the partly severed pectoral fin. Photo Freya

After many salty water filled breaths trying to keep up with the shark, his feeding/swimming patterns and ensuring safe removal of the damaging line, two out of three hooks were removed as well as all of the line! Sadly one hook remains in the flesh of the shark though the damaging line was removed! We’ve seen some amazing quick healing capabilities of these rather amazing sharks. Anything from a dorsal fin being sliced in half from a propeller having healed completely in a year to abrasions recovering to full strength in naught but weeks!
Suction feeding shark, Photo Savi
Djibouti whale sharks back 'on-song'!!
Long story short, this week has restored our faith in the Djibouti Aggregation and we are on the edge of our seats to see what this next week has in store for us.

No comments: