Set off from Vilamendhoo on a dhoni for two hour trip to the sothern end of Ari Atol, where there were reports of whale shark sightings. Cruised around in the general area, but no sighting, so went for the first scheduled dive on the outside reef of ‘local’ island Manigili, a long reef right on the southern edge of the atoll.
In the water at around 15m, and approx 10 minutes into the dive, when Frank starts pointing out into the blue. Heading straight for us is a soltary rhincodon typus, around 6m long. The fish then headed west along the reef at around 5m, and lets us fin with it for 10-12 minutes, not seeming to mind the (careful) attention of a dozen divers, before slipping quietly into the blue again.
The whale shark is not supposed to be an efficient swimmer, but we were seriously finning to stay abreast, with no apparent effort from the fish.
At no time during our time with it did it open that enormous mouth,but being an active feede it was probably pumping water over its gills to feed.
The rest of the dive was pretty uneventful – but nobody cared!
To cap a great day, we encountered a group of seven manta rays on the return trip, and were able to snorkel with them for 20 minutes. Awesome day!