Rare Whale Shark sighting at Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia

Sunday 12th March 2017

As we pulled up to Turtle Cave at Flat rock the Manta lodge boat had told us they had seen a Whale shark. I thought they were having us on as they said it very calmly and Whale Sharks are incredibly rare here.

There was a fair bit of current on the surface and as we descended. Within two minutes I saw Nick pointing at something in the blue and I could make out that it was a silhouette of a Whale Shark! Anticipating its movement I swam as fast as I could safely up and towards the animal whilst changing my camera settings and turning my lights on.

Once it came through the bubbles the divers were blowing out I was able to swim just metres behind it filming it but had to swim quite hard in the current so the footage is not the best but is proof nonetheless we did see one!

It swung around and I decided to stop as I couldn’t keep up with it. It was about four metres and had several huge Cobia hanging out with it as well as some Remoras under its chin.

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The water crystal clear blue with over thirty metres of visibility was amazing. We continued to drift around the corner in the current and saw several Eagle Rays, Cod, Queensland Grouper, a Tawny Nurse Shark, Leopard Shark, a large school of small Barracuda, large Great Trevally, some divers saw Tuna, a school of Batfish, and a ton of Tropical fish littered the rocky seabed.

The idea was to follow the current around the corner and into the Shark gutters but the current was too strong and we missed it. Nick inflated an SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) and we started to ascend.

By the time we ascended we had drifted some distance from the site. We spent forty minutes on the surface waiting to be picked up because we had drifted off further South rather than East. We knew Ken would be able to find us soon but there was also a swell and I was worried they wouldn’t be able to see our SMB over the waves. I clipped off my camera and all five of us inflated our SMBs and held them as high as we could.

We started to drift into a large area of Blue bottles on the surface. All of us got stung on our hands or face. It was the first time I was stung by a Blue Bottle and I was surprised at how much it hurt, it felt like being whipped on my face then someone pouring alcohol over it once it had drawn blood. Ouch!

We were having a laugh though enjoying the sunshine and staying together, and then Ken spotted our SMBs and came over. Needless to say this was a true surface interval. Ken mentioned it was great we had all our SMBs up as he just managed to see us as they were about to turn and look in a different area. This shows the importance of the SMB and the need for everyone to have one and use it when floating away on the surface from the boat.

On the second dive we stayed at the site this time as the current was still strong. The Whale Shark didn’t come back but the large school of Batfish in the shallows looked stunning in the light beams and crystal clear water. Bruce had cleaner shrimp cleaning his hands and there were critters, many Tropical fish, Eagle Rays and Big Eye Trevally. I had a shorter dive retreating to the mooring feeling a bit tired from swimming in the current, and my previous dive’s efforts with swimming after the Whale Shark.

Back to shore, Dolphins by the boat and an absolutely stunning Queensland day. This is what dreams are made of!

Video courtesy of Sarah Williamson of me filming the Whale Shark shown on Channel 7:

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Maximum dive times 40-45 minutes. Maximum depth 28 metres.