There are various aquatic activities that you can participate in on your trip to Thailand. Some of the most common ones are snorkeling, scuba diving, and paddle boarding. While all these activities are super fun and you should do them on your trip, sometimes people may be in the mood to partake in a more unheard-of activity that gets their adrenaline pumping. If you are looking for an event like so, then why not take a swim with whale sharks!
This article will inform you of everything you need to know to partake in a swimming whale shark venture! We discuss information about whale sharks, including their appearance, personalities, and characteristics. We will also share the best locations for a swim with whale sharks and the ideal time of the year for this activity.
What Are Whale Sharks?
Whale sharks are giant carpet sharks a part of the Rhincodontidae family. They are the most giant shark in the world and are known for their sheer size and beautiful patterns. The whale shark is an endangered species located in all tropical oceans. These incredible creatures are genuinely fascinating due to their grand appearance and utter calmness and grace.
What Are Whale Sharks Like?
The giant whale shark stuns you at first glance because they are so large. These fish can grow anywhere from 18ft to 33ft and weigh up to 41,000 pounds; that is just over 20 tons! They can live over 100 years and breed at age 30 when they reach maturity. Whale sharks can also birth up to 300 pups in one litter. They initially produce eggs, but then the eggs will hatch inside the female shark, and she will give birth to live pups.
Whale sharks are gray and covered in small white spots all over their bodies, which are in a pattern so they can individually be identified. They also have some faint lines on their stomach and enormous, flat heads with blunt snouts.
Their mouth is vast and, when fully opened, measures approximately 5ft wide. They are filter-feeding fish, meaning they have highly tiny teeth, so they suck in their food and filter out the excess water. The leading foods they feast on include shrimp, plankton, crustaceans, and fish. They can sense the food with their barbels, also known as whiskers that act as sensory organs.
Is A Swim With Whale Sharks Safe?
One thing that people might be wondering is if it is safe to swim with whale sharks. When many initially think of swimming with a shark, it may seem risky. But in reality, it is entirely safe to swim with whale sharks.
Whale sharks shock many people because they are so large when you see them in real life, but also because of how gentle and calm they are. They are entirely safe to be around because they are genuinely unbothered by humans as their diet only consists of small crustaceans. There have been no accounts of a whale shark ever harming a human, so this activity isn’t dangerous.
Where Are The Best Locations For A Swimming Whale Shark Session?
If a swim with whale sharks is on the agenda, then the Similan Islands is the place for you. Not only is it one of the best diving locations, but it is also the best spot to swim with a whale shark. If you dive at the right time of year, you will most likely see a variety of marine life, including whale sharks, other shark species, manta rays, and a plethora of fish. You will also get to see all the beautiful, colorful coral around the islands and enjoy the many other features like the beaches and breathtaking views. Overall, it is a great place to visit and see these gigantic creatures.
Richelieu Rock is one of the most popular spots on the Similan Islands to swim with whale sharks, and many refer to this dive zone as the whale shark diving spot. Whale sharks often come to this area because they use it as a cleaning station. This spot not only has excellent diving, but your chances of spotting one of these grand sharks are very high, although it is never guaranteed.
Shark Point and Koh Racha Noi are other areas where whale shark sightings have been reported. While people don’t frequently see them here, it is a possibility that you might if it is the right time. But as mentioned before, even if you don’t see the whale sharks on your first dive, there are plenty of other amazing creatures to see so that you won’t be disappointed. Scuba diving overall is an exciting activity that you are sure to enjoy!
What Is The Optimal Time To Swim With Whale Sharks?
For the best chance of seeing a whale shark, you must dive at the right time of year. Whale sharks are most commonly seen between November and April. Although, the months where you have the highest possibility are between March and April. This is because May to June is the hot season, and July to October is the rainy season, making it less likely to see sharks during these periods. But honestly, it is possible to swim with whale sharks anytime if you are lucky.
What To Expect From A Swimming Whale Shark Activity?
The sight of a whale shark can be startling to many people the first time because of the sheer size of these creatures. But they indeed are gentle giants and pose no threat to humans. With that being said, you should still be cautious and take precautions as they are enormous animals, and their tails are massive and could accidentally hit you if you are not careful. So generally, it is best to dive close to their head and remain at least three ft away from their head and ten ft away from their tail.
You should also be mindful that you mustn’t touch them while on a swimming whale shark venture. These gentle giants have a protective layer of mucus on their skin to protect their tooth-like scales. Touching this aquatic creature could result in a painful “shark burn” for you and damage the shark’s skin. So it is better to observe their beauty and avoid physical contact.
Also, just a few things to remember:
- If you want to take pictures, don’t shine the flash in their eyes.
- Stay calm and move slowly.
- Don’t make an excessive amount of noise.
- Embrace this remarkable experience, and don’t be scared!
Having the ability to swim with whale sharks is an extraordinary experience that many cannot even imagine. These gentle giants display the utmost class and calmness as they glide through the water unbothered by their surroundings.
While they can sometimes be a little hard to find, choosing the right diving location and time of year can be beneficial in a successful swim with whale sharks. It is also essential that you respect these great creatures when you do see them. Use your common sense, keep a safe distance, and follow basic scuba diving protocols and you won’t have any issues. Not many have the opportunity to partake in this unique activity, so if you can try it out, you definitely should!