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Whale shark sightings have always been common in Gorontalo. But this month we are encountering these giants daily.
Sightings in Gorontalo
Since beginning operations in 2003, whale shark sightings with crew and guests have been numerous. On average, we encounter these giants twice per month. Any month will do. In other places in the world, whale sharks are seen on the surface. That is true in Gorontalo, also. However, we also see them while scuba diving. Oceans depths off dive sights here plunge to over four kilometers. No wonder divers encounter whale sharks in Gorontalo!
New Site for Whale Shark Encounters
In April 2016 a video from Gorontalo was uploaded onto social media. It was an instant hit. Seven whale sharks were seen congregating. To local fishermen, this was not news. The giant fish had been gathering in the same spot for two years. A nearby shrimp factory had been throwing its unwanted shrimp shells and heads into the ocean. The whale sharks love to eat them. This means that whale shark sightings occur daily in April at this location.
Miguel’s Diving staff, POSSI Gorontalo and government officials met together the week following the discovery. Under the direction of Gorontalo’s governor, Drs. H. Rusli Habibie, MAP, a conservation area is being established. This includes zonation.
Responsible Contact with Whale Sharks
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published guidelines for whale shark encounters. This includes the call not to touch the whale shark. Certainly, no one should ride one or grab a fin. A safe distance is two meters from the whale shark’s head. Stay three meters from its tail.
Schooling whale sharks is a new phenomenon for Miguel’s Diving. We are still studying how to conduct scuba diving that is safe for guests and whale sharks alike.
Below the feeding area is a series of coral pinnacles. Divers descend and wait near the pinnacles. The depth is around 15 meters. This provides an appropriate distance for safe viewing whale shark silhouettes as they circle above. After eating some shrimp heads, they swim down to inspect the divers. Oftentimes, they swim very close.
Taking pictures or video of the whale sharks is easy to do. WWF guidelines indicate that a flash should not be used. Divers also should not chase them. The whale sharks will pass by divers waiting patiently by the pinnacles.
For your chance for a whale shark encounter, please book your dive trip with us.