Mafia, the island off Tanzania coast, is blessed to be home to hundreds of whale sharks. They are the biggest recorded fish in the ocean globally. A whale shark can measure up to 18 meters long and weigh more than 20 tons. Whale sharks in the South Western Indian Ocean are known to stay longer
As with all wildlife, a respectful distance should be kept at all times as a whale shark will most likely be nervous of the strange four-limbed creature swimming beside it. Never ever touch a whale shark – it can cause them undue stress and they may dive into deeper waters, thus ruining it for everybody.
We stick with the three metre rule to ensure there's no stress to the fish, and we're not encroaching on its natural swimming behaviour
Mafia Island experiences the longest whale shark season globally. Whilst the behaviour of whale sharks is still relatively unknown, the most reliable time to encounter them within the October to February period at Mafia Island is during November and December.
Despite its name, whale sharks are neither typically whale nor shark. Without proper teeth and shy by nature, swimming with whale sharks is a safe excursion that makes Mafia Island such a special destination. As with all wildlife, a respectful distance should be kept at all times as a whale shark will most likely be nervous of the strange four-limbed creature swimming beside it.
Whale sharks are filter feeders and can neither bite nor chew. They can process more than 6,000 litres of water an hour through their gills. Although its mouth can stretch to four feet wide, a whale shark’s teeth are so tiny that they can only eat small shrimp, fish and plankton by using their gill rakers as a suction filter.
International Whale Shark Day happens on 30 August every year, and it’s all about celebrating these colossal creatures, and encouraging marine conservation efforts aimed at this shark species. But why are whale sharks so important? Well because of their size, whale sharks play a big role in the health of marine ecosystems, and what they do on a day-to-day basis can have far-reaching effects. Let’s take a look at what makes whale sharks important enough to deserve their very own day.