|The whale shark (Photo: T. A. Mooney)|
We quickly but cautiously piled into the water, afraid that the slightest splash could send it on its way. But it stuck around for over 20 minutes as we swam with it, and it was us that eventually had to get back on the boat to continue our work while it continued to swim around us.
The whale shark (Ryncodon typus) is the largest living fish and yet it eats some of the smallest animals in the sea, primarily plankton, by filter-feeding. It's giant head is mostly mouth, but in spite of this shark's size it is docile and can manoever its body gracefully using its ability to sense movement in the surrounding water. Not exactly the kind of whale we are looking for, but a rare encounter that made our day.