Whale Sharks in the Maldives
Dive & snorkeling with the whale shark in the Maldives the biggest shark and the world's biggest fish, it is not a whale. It is commonly less than 10m length but they can be up to 12m or more. It has a huge mouth which can be up 1.4m wide. Its mouth is at the very front of its head (not on the underside of the head like in most sharks). It has a wide, flat head, a rounded snout, small eyes, 5 very large gill slits, 2 dorsal fins and 2 pectoral fins. The spiracle (a vestigial first gill slit used for breathing when the shark is resting on the sea bottom) is located just behind the shark's eye.The whale shark has light-yellow markings on its dark gray skin, they may be individual identified by this spots. Its skin is up to 10cm. There are three prominent ridges running along each side of the shark's body. The whale shark is a filter feeder that sieves enormous amounts of plankton, krill, small fish, and squid to eat through its gills while it swims, so it is usually seen between surface and 10m of depth. The shark can process over 6000 liters of water each hour. Whale sharks are solitary creatures.
The 'Maldives Whale Shark Project' studies the whale shark population collecting whale shark sightings from throughout the atolls to build up a picture of the structure and movements of these colossal sharks. Through collaboration with visiting researchers and various dive centers across the Maldives they have built up a comprehensive photographic database from over 400 sightings going back several years, and from this they have already identified almost 90 individual sharks that make seasonal movements between the atolls during the year. The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) has been declared a protected species by the Government of the Maldives since the 24th of June 1995.
Diving with Whale Sharks in their natural environment is a breathtaking and rewarding experience. They are harmless so both divers and snorkelers can carefully swim close to them but maintain a minimum distance of 3m without restrict normal movement or behavior of the shark, without touching them or they will take off.
The best locations to see the whale sharks are Maamigili area in South Ari Atoll and Hanifaru in Baa Atoll, commonly see also in Gaafu Alifu Atoll.