Holidaying in the Maldives can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made – especially if you’re a nature lover. With many species of marine life, ranging from turtles to dolphins, and the majestic Whale Shark, the archipelago is sure to delight. If taking a dip alongside a whale shark is on your bucket list, you’re in luck, with many an opportunity for you here.
Types of Whale Shark
The very definition of a gentle giant, the whale shark is known as a filter-feeder – having no teeth to bite with – and the Maldives is home to three major types. The Whale Shark, Basking Shark, and Megamouth species make their homes here, and as a migratory species, quite hard to follow as they travel thousands of miles to feeding grounds. Many Maldives snorkelling resorts provide opportunities to tour with and take a glimpse of these creatures.
Whale Shark Features
Contrary to their name, they are not whales in the least and live to over 100 years of age upon which they become mature at 30 years of age. Despite their longevity, they reproduce rather slowly as they are only able to do so after 10 years. Having an initially fast growth rate, it slows down as time progresses which takes them longer to hit maturity, adding to the vulnerability as a species.
Protection for Whale Sharks
Once having been hunted for skin and liver oil, they are now a protected species, thanks to local regulations as well as global initiatives. Further bolstered by whale shark sanctuaries and conservation programmes, the recovery of the species is underway after having been put on the Red List of Threatened Species, denoting its risk of extinction around the world.
As breathtaking as the experience of swimming alongside the whale shark is, you must always remember the guidelines for doing so – the most important being, not to touch the shark! They are not a tactile species. Additionally, make sure to give plenty of room to the creatures, and respect their space. Some properties, such as The Residence Maldives will direct you to the best places where all these guidelines are followed, for the best experience possible.