Off in the blue, minding your own business and…. wait….what is that….. WHALE SHARRRRRRK!!!!! Obviously underwater this is usually communicated with a large exhale of bubbles and an excited “Shark Sign” to your buddy.
Diving with Whale Sharks in Thailand
Thailand is one of the BEST places in the world for seeing Whale Sharks (or Shalam Wan to our Thai friends) in their NATURAL environment. This is a very important fact when choosing where to go PADI diving in Thailand to find whale sharks.
What not to do when looking for whale sharks
Some dive spots very wrongly guarantee you to see whale sharks. They attract whale sharks by luring them with plankton even during the low seasons when the trips do not go out as often. Whale sharks end up using too much energy and not getting enough food as being fed planktons from buckets is not enough and bad for these sea creatures.
Finding Whale Sharks in their Natural Environment
Here in Thailand, if it’s your lucky day, it’s your lucky day, and we do get quite a few of them!
Whale sharks, the 3rd biggest fish in the ocean, can often be spotted in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. There is never a guarantee, but the best dive spot overall to get lucky and see whale sharks is *drum roll please*: The Gulf of Thailand.
In 2017 alone, there were 58 different Whale Sharks spotted off the coasts of Koh Tao and Sail Rock and few off the coast of Surat Thani, Chumphon and Phuket and the Similan Islands on the west side.
The best dive sites in the Gulf to see them are Sail Rock and Chumphon Pinnacle, they can also bee seen ever shallower around the reefs of Koh Tao if you are very lucky.
General Information About Whale Sharks
The “BFG” of the ocean, the Whale Shark is a completely magnificent being, however we do not know too much about them still. We believe they come to the Gulf to warm their bodies up, as the Gulf is about 80m max and averages about 40m in most places. they seem to love the sun on their backs and the bubbles on their bellies.
An endangered species, there is nothing quite like seeing one come out of no where while you are diving or snorkeling. But remember, keep your head with you always. It is very easy to lose yourself when seeing this, but please stay with your dive or snorkel guide and give it plenty of room.
Being the 3rd biggest fish in the ocean, it does not have a lot of maneuverability if you choose to stay in its way. The Whale Shark can grow up to 15m long!! However, in the Gulf you will usually find the “babies” measuring around 3-7m depending. Still pretty huge!!
Plankton feeders, you will find them like the manta rays, swimming along with their big wide mouths open filtering out plankton, so never fear if you are thinking you might end up like Pinnochio!!
When is the best time to look for whale sharks in Thailand?
All year round it is possible to see them, but usually March, April and June can be the best times to see them in the Gulf, easily accessible from Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao.
General Guidelines and Code of Conduct When Interacting with Whale Sharks
Please do see a few gentle rules when seeing and swimming with Whale Sharks. Please keep to these, no exceptions! A good way to tell the authenticity of a trip, is to see what rules they abide by when it comes to viewing these magnificent creatures.