Thank you to Katy Page for letting us use her photo from the dive"Keep your wide angle in your bag, this is the Lembeh Strait!" We really can't remember how many times we have said that to our guests. However, on 3rd March we were forced to think again. On a dive to Angels Window a group diving with guide Robbie Manialup came across a whale shark. We fondly called it a pygmy whale shark as it was still young and only reached a length of 6 meters!
This is the biggest fish in the sea and there are only a few whale species that are larger. Thought to reach up to a possible 20 meters and 34 tonnes it seems difficult to believe that they feed on microscopic plankton rarely more than 3mm in size. The combination of its immense size and characteristic checkerboard pattern makes this creature almost unmistakable and completely unforgettable.
The whale shark belongs to the order Orectolobiformes, or carpet sharks, and comprises the only member of its family, Rhincodontidae. Most families of carpet sharks are small, benthic (sea-floor) species with a limited distribution through the tropical and temperate indo-pacific waters (e.g. wobbegongs and bamboo sharks). A few species such as the whale shark, Zebra shark and two out of the three species of nurse Shark are larger and more geographically widespread. (Info from the Shark Trust)
If you have a particular critter that you would like to learn more about, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll look into featuring it in a future article.