Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whale Sharks

Yesterday I felt haunted by whale sharks. I saw them a few times on my screensaver. Then I also saw them on the Flickr screensaver on our television.

I wondered if it could mean something.

The only thing I could come up with, in terms of symbolism, is Big Fish—like a big fish in a small pond. I'm not sure how to apply that to my life.

Then I thought well, maybe the universe is telling me to think about Ningaloo in Western Australia, because there are whale sharks there.

Last night I read about whale sharks before going to bed. I was intrigued and somewhat disturbed to learn there are actually a few in captivity. They have some at the Georgia Aquarium, which is only a 1-2 day drive from us. I considered going to see them, but then decided I'd rather see them in the wild.

As far as I know, the Georgia Aquarium isn't an evil place. So maybe I should have some faith that they have a big enough tank for the giant fish.

Here's the Georgia Aquarium's page about the whale shark. You can scuba dive with them.

They say the aquarium holds 6.3 million gallons of water. I guess that's quite big.

I'm usually not too bothered by animals in captivity as long as their treated very well. So why does a whale shark in captivity bother me?

Maybe it just surprises me.

I've never heard of a giant sea animal being in an aquarium. Usually, I don't see things larger than a manatee or beluga whale.

Oh! Wait. There's the killer whale. Although their captivity has become very controversial.

I'm going to do a size comparison. Is a whale shark larger than a killer whale?

Google is telling me that a male killer whale can be about 23 feet long.  Lord Wiki says the largest measured whale shark is 40 feet, but some believe they've seen larger.  But in general, it seems the whale shark is much bigger than the orca.

This website has a list of the world's largest aquariums. It turns out Georgia has the largest tank.  And the site says there has been controversy about them having whale sharks. To add to the aggravation and controversy, two of their whale sharks died. The site links to an article about that.  It's believed the whale sharks died from a pesticide used in the tank to kill an infestation of leeches.

Before the deaths there was controversy, because several captive whale sharks in Japan died.

It's probably NOT a good idea to keep whale sharks in captivity.

If you want to see and swim with whale sharks, it's probably best to go to Ningaloo in Western Australia...or another whale shark place...somewhere on earth.

Here's a Ningaloo shark dive tourism thing. It's called the Three Island Whale Shark Dive.

It's snorkeling vs scuba, so you wouldn't need to be certified.

It includes meals.

I can't find the price.

Found it!

It's $385 for an adult. That's quite pricey, but probably worth it. I can't really imagine going to Ningaloo and not seeing whale sharks. Aren't they the main attraction? Though maybe there's more affordable options.

This Ningaloo tourism website has a page about whale shark tours. They say they're all quite similar. They're all day; include meals and snacks; have spotter planes to find the sharks; and have a no-whale-spotting policy. The no spotting policy means that if you don't see any whales, they'll try to appease your disappointment by offering you a partial refund or giving you a raincheck.

The website says that the whale sharks congregate around the reef from April to July. Does that mean there are no whale sharks at other times. Or just less whale sharks?

I'm looking back at the Three Island Whale Shark Dive page. They have a calendar, which says whale shark sightings are available from March to August.  If you take the tour now (December) it's not a complete loss. You can see turtles, dolphins, dugong, and rays.  This is kind of mean to say, but I think they should lower the price for that.  I often see those animals in aquariums, so I'm not sure I'd be overly thrilled to see them. Yeah. They're in the wild. And that's happier and different. But still.  I think there are probably much cheaper tours in Australia for seeing those animals in the wild.

Yeah. Here. Byron Bay has a dolphin tour for $75. It doesn't include snorkeling, though.  Plus, it's only 2.5 hours. That would be long enough for me.

I was wondering...where else besides Ningaloo can you take whale shark tours.

Lonely Planet has a list.

There's are places and tours in Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Philippines, Mozambique, Seychelles, Thailand, and the Maldives.  There's average price listings for each place. Ningaloo is much more expensive than all the others. I wonder why.  It could be the spotter plane thing. I don't see that listed in the description of other places.

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