A 5 metre Whale Shark was spotted off the west side of the island just after a group of divers had surfaced from a dive. The students on the dive had just completed their third Open Water dive and were at the surface when the Whale shark idly cruised just in front of them. The skipper of the boat spotted it first and leapt up and down as he initially thought it was a Nurse Shark and didn’t want them to miss the sighting – and then for a second after jumping up and down, the skipper thought it might be something else… something a little more worrying but then after watching it cruise a little closer toward the boat it became clear that it was in deed a Whale shark. The frantic shouting however continued and was directed toward the divers in an attempt to get them to get their mask on their face and to swim after the Whale shark. Whale sharks are completely harmless to humans and they also swim very slowly, normally just below the surface, and if you swim after them you can actually keep up with them very easily.
The divers even managed to descend and get an excellent view from under the water. Shortly afterwards our fishing boat also happened to cruise past with a father and his 6 year old son on board. The father grabbed a mask and also swam after the Whale shark. The Whale shark was interested in the vibrations the outboard engines were making from the boats and continually swam up to the boats to take a closer look – by now almost everyone was in the water including the skipper of the fishing boat. The Whale shark hung around for some time but shortly after the 6 year old son also entered the water to have a look, he slowly descended and swam out of sight. This is a very rare sighting for North Island and although Whale sharks are common in the Seychelles, especially around October to December, they seldom frequent the waters around North Island, preferring to stay closer to Mahe – our last sighting on the island being in 2009.