Thursday, June 05, 2008

Swimming with a Whale Shark in the Maldives

We were cruising down South Ari and Faafu Atoll, in the Maldives, when the ship's lookout shouted - WHALE SHARK!!! Then all pandemonium erupted.

Holy freakin cow!!! You could make out the big shadow of the whale shark in the water.

The Maldivian Dive Master looked at us with bemusement, and with the tone of an exasperated schoolmarm said with his sing song voice- "What are You Lot waiting for? JUMP JUMP!!!! You are veerry a slow lot you know."

Someone stared at the white foamy waves and muttered with a stoned look, "Crazy! I'm not getting in."

The rest of us rushed to put on our mask, fins, and snorkels and jumped into the foaming sea.

The sea was indeed rough. But we were high on whale fever. 6 days on a boat can make you a bit nutty. I made a mistake and left my snorkel on the board the boat - I thought the rough seas would just make snokelling impossible- but the other divers did it. :(

Visibility was a bit hard to see at times, maybe 10m. The waters, as mentioned, was choppy and so the filming is very shaky.

I found it hard to swim fast without the snokel. But I'm just grateful I had that 5 second shot of the whale shark - that grunting comes from the shark itself.

I've never seen anything that big in the water before - and with all the general excitement, shouting and screaming - I hope that you can understand how perhaps more appropriate and sensible choices get overlooked.

Anyways, watch the video. Enjoy.

You can read about whale sharks on the Wikipedia site

The smallest is the size of an SUV - and they can grow to the size of a big bus weighing over 50 tons.

If you have trouble watching this video - you may have to open a multiply account and download the video. Its 50mb and may take awhile even if you have a good internet connection.

(Note: This film has been edited to make it more streamlined.)

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