|whale shark fin on the surface|
This morning, before I even had my morning coffee, I was out on deck with the binoculars pressed to my eyes. Almost immediately I spotted a fin not far from the boat. I watched as it drifted lazily, thinking it was moving at the right speed, but seemed a bit small. Maybe it was a sea lion with a deformed flipper… Despite my doubt I rounded Evan and Maia up. We grabbed our snorkeling gear and piled into the dinghy. I directed Evan to where I had seen the fin--and saw nothing. We motored around for another 10 minutes then called it quits. Finding the world's biggest fish was going to be trickier than I hoped.
|there is something wonderful about the fact that the world's largest shark is not only gentle, but has yellow polka dots...|
It was clear as soon as we arrived in the little cove we'd found the sharks. I saw the fins on the surface (exactly like the one I'd seen earlier in the morning, and far smaller than I would have expected.) Three or four of the huge filter feeders swam around us-first fins, then yellow spots and stripes suddenly appearing out of the murky green. Maia thought twice about jumping in after a particularly large shark cruised under the dinghy, dwarfing us, but she dove in soon after Evan did.
|Evan encounters a little juvenile|
Having a huge shark (which despite its cheery polka dots, still looks like a shark) swim directly for you is, umm, invigorating. But the only real hazard is being hit by the massive tail. The sharks only reach a whopping 5 km/hour in speed but their big tail swings through a large powerful arc. We tried to keep our bodies between Maia and the shark-to keep her clear of the tail. But at one point a particularly intrusive shark separated us and Maia, in her need to be by my side, levitated over the shark's broad back to get to me.
The experience was a phenomenal one. We wished the water was clearer and that we brought our better camera-but that hour long swim is locked in our memories.
Check out the great pictures by Andy on the blog Savanah.
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