For the past few years, whale shark tourism has exploded. Although snorkeling with them is something amazing, it is a good idea to do extensive research to learn about them. The following are some things to know before you swim with them.
You may be confused by the name whale shark as they are not whales. They are a certain species of shark that is why they are classified as fish. On the other hand, whales are mammals. Thus, the largest fish in the world is the whale shark. It can grow up to 40 feet long and even weigh up to 20 tons. It can also live to over 100 years. Although they are huge, they have a tiny brain. This explains why they are not curious about anything that does not appear to be food.
The fact that they are filter eaters means they cannot eat you. Also, they will not bite you. When you swim with whale sharks you can be assured that they cannot harm you. Even the thousands of teeth they have are not used for biting their own food. Still, there is research ongoing to determine what the use their teeth for. In fact, they have exactly 3,000 teeth.
What Do They Eat?
Since they are filter feeders, their choice of food is plankton and krill. They may also scoop small fish. Though their large mouths will easily encompass the body of a human, even if you get it, you will be ejected immediately as their throat opening is about the size of a golf ball. However, it is a good idea to stay clear of their mouths.
Choose Reputable Tour
As said above, whale shark tourism has exploded. This explains why many operators are popping up everywhere and some do not follow rules or even offer safe adventures. You should stick with the well-vetted operators that guarantee closely guided snorkels with the fish. It is advisable for a boat to have a maximum of 8 passengers. Avoid falling for cheap specials and choose experienced operators.
They Think Humans Stink
Probably you are conversant how fish smell. Also, whale sharks think human beings smell too. The chemicals from the perfume, shampoo, sunscreen, and deodorant make their eyes sting. In fact, they are quite sensitive to this and can dive down deep to get away from you if you if you are wearing scents.