In New Guinea, the world’s largest living fish share the water with local fishermen. Lucky for us, photographer Michael Aw was ready with his camera.
The giant fish is hard to study in part because it is hard to find and track. By tagging individual specimens, scientists have learned that whale sharks can log thousands of miles in years-long trips. But they sometimes disappear for weeks, diving more than a mile down and resting in the chilly deep for a spell. No one has ever found mating or birthing grounds.
Whale sharks are ordinarily loners. But not in one corner of Indonesia. The photographs on these pages, shot some eight miles off the province of Papua, reveal a group of sharks that call on fishermen each day, zipping by one another, looking for handouts near the surface, and nosing the nets—a rare instance when the generally docile fish act, well, like the rest of the sharks.
Just take a look at these amazing photographs from the hot-off-the-press National Geographic article:
Be sure to check out the full article online here or in the October issue of National Geographic on newsstands now!