It’s World Oceans Day. Horray! It’s like a second birthday, a day when we get to do what we like… at least when it comes to talking about how awesome the oceans are.
So, here at Seamonster we’ve decided to share with you some of our most awesome moments underwater – when we each met a seamonster we’ll never forget.
I’m going to go first. And I’m going to pick my first encounter with a whale shark.
It all began when I was a high school kid, working hard at my studies, and dreaming of the day I could escape into the world and explore the oceans (I’d already learned to Scuba dive in chilly UK waters and was desperate to try out my fins in the tropics). I watched a TV documentary about whale sharks and decided, there and then, that I had to go see them for myself.
So, a few months later (after passing my exams) I set off for Australia’s remote west coast, offering my services as a volunteer with a whale shark research group at Ningaloo Reef, and in a rendez-vous I shall never forget, found myself swimming way out of my depth alongside the undisputed emperor of the fish world.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing a whale shark up close. They are just so very big.
This one steamed towards me like a train. It got closer and closer and still there was no end of it in sight. Its wide, squared-off jaw approached and it peered at me with a deep-set piggy eye. Its inky-blue skin, stippled in fist-sized white spots, slid past me like an unending convetor belt, until eventually its tail planed into view – the tail alone was taller than I was.
No wonder it swam so fast while looking so nonchalant, slowly swinging its enormous tail from side to side. I felt honored and belittled by the brief moments we spent together, before it powered off, too fast for me to keep up.
I saw many more whale sharks during those wonderful months I spent at Ningaloo – but the one I remember the clearest is this one. I guess there’s nothing quite like the first time you see a real-life seamonster.
So, thank you to the oceans for giving us whale sharks… and so many other amazing things besides…