Jun 13, 2005
|I think I've had one of the best experiences of my life yesterday!
We were picked up at 7 in the morning, went to the harbur and on a boat, 16 people, everybody very excited as we were about to go swimming with the whale sharks...
On board we were equipped with wetsuits and snorkelgear and had a half hour test snorkel on the reef with plenty of fish and coral.
When everybody was on board again we cruised to the open ocean and waited for the spotter plane to spot a whale shark. After about 20 minutes the boat picked up speed and we raced along the reef for a while. When we stopped our guide said: "ok, no whale sharks yet, we're gonna do a Manta Ray jump first" Wow, Mantas, I always wantes to see them!
We all jumped into the water and there they were, weightless flying through the water, a wing span of three to four meters. They were feeding and circling around us, amazing creatures!
Shortly after this whale sharks were spotted. From now on everything went a bit quicker and quite army-like. There's four boats packed with tourists and everyone wants to see the shark. So the boats line up in the direction the shark is travelling, people are split in groups of maximum 10 and then you jump into the water ("Quick, qiuck, quick, everybody jump!!!". Half the group goes to the left, the other half to the right and the you wait for the shark to come to you.
From the moment you leave the boat everything is quite hectic. As soon as the bubbles have cleared and you can see you start followning your guide until you're told to stop. then you hang there, floating in the ocean. Everything around you is blue, you can't see the bottom, let alone what's coming towards you - pretty exciting, it could be a Tiger Shark, too.
And then a shade appears somewhere out of the blue. And this bloody big fish with a mouth like a garage door comes right at you. And all you think is: "I really need to get out of his way" (They're completely harmless filter feeders, but you still don't want to be hit by one). When you hve foud a position to let it pass everything changes. The sharks are so majestic and gentle, they radiate a calmness that immediately affects you. You float there, breathing through the snorkel, watching this 8 meter animal pass. Then you start finning like mad to keep up with it and enjoy a little longer. But although the shark doesn't seen to move his fins at all he's pretty fast and all too soon all you can see it the pattern of white stripes and dots on his back before he disappears into the blue again...
Then you jump back on board and everything starts again. I've jumped in at least 8 times and I've seen five different whale sharks between 4 and 8 meters in length. Pretty exhausting but it's good fun.
When the sharks didn't want to play anymore and kept diving off we had lunch - buffet style with fresh prawns and went back to the reef for another snorkel. On the way we stopped for more Mantas. I liked them even better than the sharks as there were so many of them and they kept circling around and underneath us. Some came so close, I could have touched them.
When we were back on land and climbed on the bus everyone had a big cheesy grin on his face. I'm still pretty excited and althoug the whole thing cost me $250 I'm really happy I've spent the money. It was worth every cent...