Friday, April 27, 2007

Lots and lots of sharks about

It has been lovely to have lots of whale sharks about, it feels like everywhere we have looked, we've found tuna boils, mantas and whale sharks. One day that stands out was Friday 20th April. Within half an hour of going out, we found a small tuna boil. A quick flick of a tail fin meant that there was a shark there. Feverish anticipation.

But slowly, we slid in to the water and were greeted by a shark approaching us from 30m (100ft) away. Nice gentle swim-by - showing off his colours! But it soon became abundantly obvious that taking photos was going to be a massive challenge - there may not have been that many tuna about but the water was thick with plankton (not that common of a sight here). And even more incredible was the sheer numbers of small minnows: hectares and hectares of 2inch long fish! I had never seen anything like it here. Of course, this is what the whale sharks were feeding on.

Getting back on the boat, we suddenly heard the water explode! More splashes. Not little plops like the tuna, but much larger eruptions. MANTAS!!!
Swimming out we found one. Gently cruising along, sieving the water. Oh, but wait, isn't that another one? And another? ... Five beautiful mantas swimming together! And every now and again - just to show off - they would rise rapidly to the surface and 'porpoise', leaping from the water. They appeared to be feeding on the minnows right at the surface (along with the hungry tuna and terns). I still think they were just showing off.

A little later...
With our group hanging motionless in the water...
The inquisitive whale shark came to investigate these strange creatures in the water. Approaching the group directly, this gentle giant slowly swam around the group - looking each an everyone of these strange creatures in the eye.

I wonder if he thought there was intelligent life there?

Lots of happy people and another lovely day on the water!


Robert said...


I want to make a trip to Utila - I am in St. Louis. I am a photographer. Can you recommend a time of year, and any other tips...who do you dive with, what is best - land or live aboard in your tips?

capepolly said...

Dear Robert,
The sharks are rather unpredictable and there can never be any guarantees of seeing them. Having said that, they can be seen year-round with sighting peaks around Easter time and October-ish. My suggestion is that you plan to go in April. I personally believe this to be the most productive month for seeing sharks (and our data certainly supports this notion).
As for more information, it would be best to speak to the guys at the Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center (
Kind regards (and good luck!)