A LARGE group of tourists diving off southern Chumphon coast yesterday (April 22) ran into a big whale shark which dispelled their fear by befriending them, the Thai-language daily Matichon reported today (April 23)
Ms Chiamchit Somsorn, the owner of a resort and diving business in this province, took a big group of tourists to dive around Koh Ran Ped and Koh Ran Kai islands and view the corals from morning, but when it got close to the time to return, a whale shark swam close to around 10 divers who were 200 meters away from Koh Ran Kai.
The divers panicked and quickly swam away to save their lives, fearing it was the one that bit a tourist in Hua Hin last week which is just 200 kilometers away, but the big fish behaved in a friendly, playful manner which relaxed them and they quickly took photographs,
Ms Chiamchit said this whale shark was around 4-5 meters long and was cute rather than frightening, so the divers played with it for around 10 minutes before surfacing, which the fish also followed suit.
When the divers got on the boat, the whale shark swam next to it all the way close to point where it was too shallow for it to go any further.
Upon returning some divers tearfully said they would always remember this whale shark and do not know whether they would get a chance to meet it again.
According to Livescience.com, whales sharks are the largest fish in the world. They are not whales; they are sharks. They have a lot in common with whales, though. For example, they are massive like whales and they feed more like whales than a typical shark.
Whale sharks can grow up to 12 meters long, but on average they grow to 5.5 to 10 meter and weigh 20.6 tons (18.7 metric tonnes). That’s about the size of a school bus.
These sharks don’t attack and tear apart their prey like many of their relatives. While they are meat-loving carnivores, whale sharks are filter feeders, according to National Geographic. They open their mouths, let water come in and their bodies filter out food, and release the water and any debris back into the ocean.
Plankton are their main food source, but they also eat shrimp, algae and other marine plant material, sardines, anchovies, mackerels, squid, tuna and albacore. They also eat fish eggs. According to The Nature Conservatory, whale sharks will wait as long as 14 hours for fish to spawn on reefs. Then, they will swoop in and eat the eggs.
Images of the friendly whale shark which tourist divers took off Chumphon coast yesterday. Photos: Matichon