The season for swimming with the whale sharks

Every morning within the next few months, several boats and yatchs will be scouring the surrounding waters of Dimaniyat Island in search of whale sharks.
Beginning the early weeks of September is the migration season for these gentle giants. Several of them pass through the Sultanate creating quite an attraction not only for divers but people who have it in their bucket list to have an encounter with one of the world’s largest fishes.

While the ‘shark’ in whale shark terrifies a lot of people, whale sharks are totally different from half their namesakes. They can grow up to 40 feet long and can weigh 20 tons, and for comparison, that means that some of them can be bigger than a school bus.
Although they are the largest fish in the sea with large mouths, they are of no danger to humans as they usually feed on planktons, krills and small fish. Although their jaws can quickly expand and fit a full human being, they won’t as they also dislike human smell, mainly when one uses shampoo, perfume or deodorant.
Whale sharks are very sensitive creatures.
Anna joined her family on a fun trip two weeks ago, and it was an experience she definitely would treasure.
As an expat, it is seldom to have this kind of experience. She and eight other people were already out by the waters near Dimaniyat Island early morning on Saturday in search for whale sharks.
“In theory, I was not really afraid of them. I know that they don’t harm humans but seeing them up close is a diffferent thing. Once you see how big they were, you can’t help but feel a little afraid.
Anna shared that during their morning boat trip, they spotted about six to eight sharks.
“Once the people on the boat saw them, almost everyone jumped into the water to chase after them. It was incredible and exciting,” she shared.
“What I learned from my encounter is that if you rush after them, they would usually try to escape. They are also terrified by the splashes on the water so they tend to go away from those. When you remain calm, they are also curious and check you out,” Anna shared.
It was precisely what happened to her. While everyone on the boat was busy swimming after the shark, she stayed a little farther away from the group and then some of the whale sharks swam towards her.
“It’s a great experience, one that you would have to experience at least once,” she said.
Emily Fan, also an expat, spotted a few of them during their trip to Dimaniyat, but she was unfortunate since she was not able to swim with them.
“I was on this yacht, and we were too late. Most of the experts recommended to visit very early. We came in late so we did not have a great time interacting with them,” she said.
If you are planning a trip to Dimaniyat to have a whaleshark encounter make sure to remember these essential tips.
1. Avoid using sunscreen or lotion as these can irritate the whale sharks.
2. Keep a distance of about 3 feet from the head and ten feet from the tail. This is not only for the whale shark’s safety but yours.
3. Be a good swimmer or bring the proper gear. While it is exciting to have this new experience, swimming in open water also comes with risk. Always think of your safety first.