Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A few weeks back when we had our first whaleshark encounter of the phase, we were left wondering how many more of these magnificent creatures we would see over the coming weeks. However, as the days passed and turned into weeks without another sighting, we began to think that this year’s whaleshark season was going to be a bit of a let down.

How wrong we were! Over the last ten days we have seen whalesharks (note the plural) on five separate occasions. The most popular whaleshark hangout seems to be at the mouth of Baie Ternay near to the lighthouse, with three of the five sightings coming in this area. The observed sharks have ranged in size from 4-7 metres with those identified so far all males.

Often the first sign of the whaleshark is a glimpse of the dorsal and caudal fins in the distance. This is the signal to get ready as we maneuver our research boat towards the shark. Strict codes of conduct are kept to when snorkeling with whalesharks so as not to distress the animals in any way. These include keeping at least four metres away, no flash photography and no blocking the path of the shark.

Last week while surveying over at Conception Island ten lucky volunteers had an encounter with two whale sharks. If that was not enough, when they slipped on their masks and snorkels and entered the water they found that they had also been joined by a 3m manta ray! Mantas are the largest of all rays growing to over 6 metres in length and are found in tropical waters around the world.

The mantas visit the Seychelles at the same time of year as the whalesharks to feed off the rich plankton soup that accumulates in the waters surrounding the islands. The mantas were seen again on Wednesday feeding with a six metre whaleshark in Conception channel.

The opportunity to see either of these magnificent creatures is an incredible experience but to see them both together is truly unbelievable. We are so lucky here at Cap Ternay to be located right near the point where these megafauna congregate. It has been for many of us one of the most amazing weeks of our lives and one we will certainly never forget!