Thursday, April 7, 2011


Our big trip down under was amazing. Snorkeling with the whale sharks was unbelievably cool. There is nothing like staring at a 28 foot sea creature in the eye. It's even more overwhelming when that huge sea creature decides to to get a closer look at you. It was an unbelievable experience. It was like no other snorkeling trip we had been on, since by law only 10 people are allowed to swim with a whale shark at one time. We were split in groups of 10 where we had to carefully listen to and follow our guide. It was actually stressful we had to jump into the water on cue quickly and quietly (one of my weakest skills) then swim briskly to where she was pointing then once we saw the shark we had to ensure we stayed 3 meters away and only swim near his sides and his back, never toward his face or dive down below he's belly. The belly is their weakest spot. Then after a few minutes we all had to stop when our guide told us to, and circle ourselves together in a small group so that the boat could easily pick us up. And this also allowed the other group of ten to then get their chance.

Basically we saw three to four whale sharks on 5 dives. I didn't see anything on the second dive, being the weakest swimmer (I admit it, I used a noodle) the whale shark had sharply turned away right when we entered the water so everyone swam one direction and I was hopelessly left behind. I probably would have been able to swim faster without the noodle, but it is purely a psychological thing, I didn't want to panic. And the noodle kept me calm. But so did spying on a large, beautiful and peaceful fish that we call a wall shark. So yeah, whale shark snorkeling is very regimented, but one can understand why it has to be. On the day we went out there was only one other Whale Shark Tour boat in the harbor, so we were very lucky that we didn't have to share sharks with them. Or so I'm told. The 28ft (or 8 meter) whale shark was the biggest we saw, the others we saw we between 5 and 6 meters.

The third dive is when I just casually looked over my right shoulder to look at a the huge 28 footer, looking back at me. One thing about whale sharks, that despite their size they seem like happy sharks, they have big mouths but they seem to smiling. Call me crazy but all other sharks you see look mean, or grumpy, or hungry. Whale sharks seem very zen. But perhaps that's because they're bellies were full. We were told that basically these are adolescent whale sharks (not even half their full size yet) that have stopped to fill their bellies before they continue chasing the girls up the coast. What a life.

What was funny for me was that I didn't think the sharks looked all that big until one was right next to me. And even then, I was like, wow he's maybe like 3 meters long or something. Then we went back on the boat, and I saw the "small" 5 meter shark and I was like "woah" that's huge, he didn't look that big in the water! Anyway, if you ever get the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks I recommend it 1000%, it was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Not to mention emus, kangaroos, and parrots. Will talk more about these later. :)