Whale shark

Rhincodon typus.

Ulysse Explorer invites you to discover, observe and swim alongside the largest fish of the ocean, the whale shark, Rhincodon typus.

Nosy Be’s area is home to many marine species including the whale shark that is often encountered during a sea trip. Each year more and more tourists from around the world come to the Nosy Be’s archipelago to meet these “gentle giants”.

You can see them from October to December but we can meet some of them the rest of the year during a diving or a liveaboard trip.

requin baleine
Whale shark filtering the plankton.

This majestic fish of impressive size, is distinguished by a unique pattern with ridges and dots on its thick dorsal skin. These markings are as unique as human fingerprints. A recent technique reported by an Australian researcher, Brad Norman, identifies individual whale sharks based on the exact positioning of their white spots.

Due to their huge and massive size, whale sharks can impress but these “gentle giants” of the oceans are harmless and devoid of aggressive fish, they only feed on plankton, which they filter, krill, small fish and squid.

alimentation du requin baleine plancton
Whale shark feeding on the surface of the ocean.

Videos of the whale shark feeding.

Their average size is about 8 meters, but some can measure up to 14 meters, and can weigh up to 12 tons.

They move at a low pace (about 5 km/h) but are able to cross thousands of kilometers during their migrations. They are usually rather solitary, but sometimes they can be found in some lagoons during periods of reproduction of the animal or that of the corals because they also feed on the milky soup that they disperse.

requins baleines
The mode of reproduction of whale sharks remains a mystery.

Although it is not known how pregnancy occurs, it is still known that young are born trained and are approximately 45 to 50 cm long, and that the fish reaches sexual maturity between 20 and 30 years of age.

Their average life expectancy is estimated at 70 years, although their longevity may be 100 years or more. These fish have no predators known except the orca and especially the man.

If they are not a threat to divers, or a threat to humans in general, these harmless beings are unfortunately increasingly threatened by human activity, and overfishing. Whale sharks are currently listed as a vulnerable species by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)WIKIPEDIA:
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is one of the world's leading non-governmental organizations dedicated to nature conservation.

2 nageurs avec un requin baleine
Whale shark Safari.

The whale sharks are docile and very easily approachable, that’s why it is strongly discouraged to touch them, so as not to transmit diseases and bacteria. A few meters of distance are necessary, to observe them respectfully and especially to facilitate their movements.

Ulysse Explorer is committed to making discover this wonderful creature in the respect and the softness in order to disturb it as little as possible.