Lucky Lanta becomes a Whale Shark Mecca

Whale Shark and Manta RayDuring the ‘monsoon season’, lucky Lanta had, not only some of the best diving ever witnessed in these waters, but had the unprecedented fortune of becoming somewhat of a Whale Shark magnet. Having personally dived in this area for over 9 years, I had never encountered the sheer number, and frequency of sightings, of these magnificent docile giants that graced our waters during April and May this year.

At top dive sites, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang, divers had the privilege of 28 consecutive days of Whale Shark (and often multiple Manta Ray) encounters. The visibility through this period was superb, peaking at well over 60 metres. The regularity of sightings at Ko Haa (particularly off Island #5) was also greater than in previous seasons, and even Ko Phi Phi got to join in the bonanza with sightings occurring for about 4 days of each month.

Whale Shark at Hin MuangDivers were returning from all the major dive sites around Ko Lanta reporting the exciting news that there had been simultaneous sightings of Whale Sharks at dive sites as far apart as 70+ km.

Whale Shark Facts:

  • The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the sea, weighing up to 60 tons and reportedly measuring up to 18 metres in length
  • The largest ever recorded Whale Shark (listed in the Guinness Book of Records) was 12.65 metres (41ft 6in), and their average length is thought to be between 8-9 metres
  • With approximately 3,000 tiny teeth, arranged in 300 rows in each 4 foot wide jaw, they filter-feed on some of the smallest creatures in the sea, such as plankton and small crustaceans
  • The Whale Shark’s skin can be up to 10cm think, but is vulnerable to skin infections (which can prove fatal in extreme cases)
  • Whale Sharks give birth to live young which hatch from eggs within their mother’s body. A pregnant Whale Shark can be carrying as many as 300 embryos
  • As with most sharks, female Whale Sharks are larger than their male counterparts
  • It is believed that Whale Sharks can live to be over 100 years old and do not mature until they are 30
  • Humans are the Whale Shark’s main predator, although they are sometimes attacked by Killer Whales (Orcas)
  • The Whale Sharks protection status is – ‘Threatened’
  • The best Ko Lanta dive sites to spot a Whale Shark are Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Ko Haa
  • Did you know – you can take a PADI Whale Shark Awareness Specialty Course?

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