Whale Sharks and Koh Tao Diving
The whale shark is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known fish in the sea. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 18.8m but pose no threat to humans. If you get too close and you can be hit accidentally by its tail. So that is why there are rules about how close you should be to them when diving on Koh Tao. They are one of only 3 species of shark that are filter feeders and have estimated lifespans of between 80–130 years. Each one has a unique pattern of spots on its body which is how they can be identified.
Where can you find it?
They can be seen at the deeper dive sites like Chumphon and South West pinnacles, but they can be found at Twins and White Rock and Hin Wong Pinnacle on rare occasions. So open water divers can see them easily because they are most often in shallow water as they feed. You don’t have to go deep. Whale sharks are seasonal visitors to Koh Tao so seeing one is never guaranteed here. We don’t take part in any unnatural feeding unlike other places in the world. You are very lucky if you do see one on your open water course.
What do they do
They have very large mouths and are filter feeders. Their mouths can contain over 300 rows of tiny teeth and 20 filter pads which it uses to feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes. The fish can be found in both coastal and oceanic habitats living in the open sea but not in the deep depths of the ocean. Not much is known about their reproduction or how long they live. They have never been seen giving birth and only twice mating so very little is known about their reproduction cycle or how long they live.