Whale shark season is definitely here in North Andaman Sea. Yahoo!
Last weekend divers on Blue Guru's 2 day Richelieu Rock dive safari were lucky enough to see a whale shark immediately as they descended down the buoyline. The 3m whale shark was swimming close to the surface as it migrated past Richelieu Rock.
This is our 2nd whale shark sighting recorded as part of our Ocean Action Project research, which is sponsored this year by Project AWARE with the aim of protecting sharks & rays from fishing boats in Andaman Sea. Our sightings are also shared with Shark Guardian, who are conducting a similar 6 month survey across whole of Thailand, and with Ecocean & Shark Trust who both manage international photo identification databases.
Generally throughout the Andaman Sea, this season is proving the best in ages for whale sharks. Just days before our sighting last weekend, 5 whale sharks were seen at the same time ... yes 5!! This is exhilarating news. It is also a huge relief after recent years where whale shark sightings were in significant decline and it was feared that they had potentially been fished to the brink of extinction in this region. So relieved that this is not the case.
Whilst it is too early to conduct analysis of our Ocean Action Project survey findings, it is pleasing to see regular sightings of black tip & white tip reef sharks at Surin Islands. Sightings are more frequent than in previous years. We are also seeing more Jenkins whiprays and Kuhl's stingrays at Surin.
Sadly we have had no manta ray sightings yet this season .... but we are not giving up hope. We still have 2 months of the dive season left and mantas have been spotted further south in Andaman Sea. So here's hoping they safely make the journey up to Richelieu Rock in the next few weeks ... along with many more whale sharks!!