The female whale shark, believed to be the only one of its kind, was first spotted by diver and naturalist Antonio Moreano in the Galapagos islands when he took a group of tourists on a nature cruise.
Antonio knew he had to get up close and personal with the placid creature and see the whale shark in its own domain. “It was 4:30pm and I and six guests were at Darwin’s Island, set to make the fourth dive of the day.” said Mr Moreano.
“As we were on the boat checking our equipment I saw a big white thing at the surface of the water. At the beginning I could not tell what it was – I had never seen anything like it before – so I decided to put my mask on and put my face over into the water”.
“Right after this I explained to my guests that it looked like a white whale shark and we were going to all jump in the water and try to follow it. I told everyone to keep a distance and not disturb it so we all jumped in the water and followed it for five minutes. I kept up swimming with it and I got very close – even the eye was white”.
Mr Moreano dived to around 50 feet as he attempted to catch up with the whale shark. “I free dove 50ft down and is when I finally managed to get some pictures of it” he explained. “It was difficult because I did not want to frighten it away so I stayed a few metres away”.
The whole experience lasted around 30 minutes. From the size and shape of its fins, Mr Moreano identified the albino animal as a female.
“All whale sharks found in Darwin’s Arch are big fat females, we have never seen a male – or at least I haven’t” he said.
“There is a big mystery about our whale sharks: they all show up at Darwin and Wolf from June until November and they all go in circles around the arch dive sites.”
“Unfortunately no-one has seen this albino whale shark since.”
We’re wondering whether it is Migaloo, the famous albino whale shark that has been found at Ningaloo reef in Australia?
From a report by Richard Shears