I have had the opportunity to work with Whale Sharks on a number of occasions. I volunteered with the Maldives Whale shark Research Programme for a month where I learnt a lot about these magnificent animals. My second encounter took me to the warm waters of the Carribean Sea just off the coast of Isla Mujeras in Mexico.
As the largest fish in the sea, reaching lengths of over 12 meters, whale sharks have an enormous menu to choose from. Fortunately for most sea-dwellers and us their favourite meal is plankton. They scoop these tiny plants and animals up, along with any small fish that happen to be around with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the waters surface. In my photos you can see the clouds of plankton they are swimming through and also the sheer scale of their huge mouths.
In one picture you will notice some small fish inside the gills of the whale shark. These are Remora fish, they attach themselves and use the whale shark for transportation and eat all the food that is left over from the shark. This is the first time I have ever seen them tucked safely inside the gills of a any other animal.
Although massive, whale sharks are docile creatures and are happy to pose for a photo as they pass by. They are currently listed as a vulnerable species; however they continue to be hunted in parts of Asia, such as the Philippines.
I would like to say a big thank you to Don Hurzeler and Leighton Lum for capturing some photos of me whith the whale sharks