Scuba divers in the Galapagos Islands were astonished to see this gigantic and magnificent beast casually cruise up to them and through their group. They had been exploring the depths at 20m (60 feet) beneath the waves at Darwin Island, hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale shark. These are the world's largest sharks and they are known to frequent these remote waters in November. While it was not a great surprise to see this beautiful animal appear here, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience to have it casually swim straight towards this group of scuba divers as if it were curious about them. Slowly waving its enormous tail, these sharks drift past Darwin Island, attracted by the convergence of three major ocean currents that bring an upwelling of nutrients. Adventurous scuba divers travel here from all over the world to experience the wonder and awe that comes with swimming near a creature that is as large as a school bus. The whale sharks in this area are almost all pregnant females. They don't often exhibit feeding behaviour here, despite the fact that the conditions are ideal. Scientists are baffled by what causes them to congregate her in such numbers. They are one of the ocean's most mysterious creatures and little is actually known about their breeding behaviour or about how and where they give birth. Whale sharks can reach a length of nearly 20m (60 feet) and they are estimated to weigh between 25,000 and 45,000kg (55,000 to 95,000lbs). They are not only the largest of the shark family, they are also the largest fish in the world. A few of the whale species are larger, but whales are mammals, not fish. For most scuba divers, it is a bucket list item to see a whale shark in its natural habitat. The sheer size and power of a whale shark cannot be accurately described. To witness them up close provides a far greater sense of their impressiveness. For the lucky few, swimming almost close enough to touch one is an unforgettable experience.
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