Whale sharks are one of the most beautiful and magnificent creatures on the planet. They are the largest shark, and also the largest fish in the ocean. Only a few species of whales are larger. At up to 17m (55 feet) in length, and up to 45,000kg (100,000lbs) whale sharks are a truly enormous and awe-inspiring animal. To be in their presence is simply breath taking.
These scuba divers are exploring the waters in the Galapagos Islands where whale sharks come each year. They cruise along with the currents in the waters around the more remote islands here. Scuba divers venture to the Galapagos from all over the world, hoping to catch a brief glimpse of these beautiful creatures. The lucky few will be able to capture a photograph or a video.
But these scuba divers were fortunate enough to be in the water right in the path of a large, pregnant female as it swam straight through their group.
They move gracefully, but they are not agile, and changing course seems to be something they cannot or will not do. Nearly bumping into one scuba diver, the shark maintains its course. To see a whale shark approaching is often a stunning experience. The first scuba diver that the shark reaches is frozen in place, directly in its path. His dive partner assists by gently pulling upwards on his tank and to lift him up a few feet. It is very important that these animals are not disturbed or stressed by the presence of humans in their world. Contact with whale sharks is to be avoided whenever possible.
The scuba diver with the camera has been surrounded by small fish, and they part respectfully and move out of the way, giving our cameraman a sudden view of the majestic shark coming right toward him. He stares in complete awe but keeps the camera pointed at the shark. Unable to move, he remains perfectly still and records the world's largest shark smoothly gliding just inches over his head. The fins pass on either side of his camera and he moves carefully to the side to avoid one of the biggest and most powerful tails in the world.
As the shark swims past, the diver is now able to move and he swims up and over the shark to record it from above. He allows it to pass and then he turns the camera to the rest of the scuba divers who are also in complete awe of what they have just seen.
This shark is completely unconcerned with the scuba divers and it makes no effort to avoid them. It is believed that they may even have some curiosity about humans, recognizing them as being no threat. Once full grown, a whale shark fears only large Galapagos sharks, which it can easily outswim if needed.