Monday, September 01, 2008

Rare Albino Whale Shark Photographed off the Coast of Darwin

What could we possibly write about this encounter that these photos don't already say?

Sometimes, Nature puts on a show that leaves Man awestruck.

And these spectacular displays by two denizens of the deep left all who saw them beguiled by their grace and beauty.

Divers were stunned by the sight of a 33ft albino whale shark as it glided through the waters off the coast of Darwin, an island in the Galapagos group.

Half a world away, a rare snow-white albino whale calf held spectators spellbound as it swam off western Australia - so white, in fact that one observer described it as 'sticking out like a neon lollipop'.

Both creatures are believed to be white because of a lack of pigmentation in the skin but they are expected to gradually turn to a darker colour as the years go by.

The female whale shark, believed to be the only one of its kind, was first spotted by diver and naturalist Antonio Moreano in the Galapagos islands when he took a group of tourists on a nature cruise.

Antonio knew he had to get up close and personal with the placid creature and see the whale shark in its own domain.

‘It was 4:30pm and I and six guests were at Darwin’s Island, set to make the fourth dive of the day,’ said Mr Moreano, who hails from the Puerto Ayora-Galapagos.

‘As we were on the boat checking our equipment I saw a big white thing by the surface of the water.

‘At the beginning I could not tell what it was - i had never seen anything like it before.

‘So I decided to put my mask on and put my face over into the water.

‘Right after this I explained to my guests that it looked like a white whale shark and we were going to all jump in the water and try to follow it.

‘I told everyone to keep a distance and not disturb it so we all jumped in the water and followed it for five minutes.'

Mr Moreano dived to around 50 feet as he attempted to catch up with the whale shark.

‘I free dove 50ft down and is when I finally managed to get some pictures of it,’ he explained.

‘It was difficult because I did not want to frighten it away so I stayed a few metres away.

‘After a few minutes the albino disappeared and nobody has ever seen it again!

‘The whole experience from the moment I first saw it to the time it swam away lasted around 30 minutes.

‘I was very excited but it was not until we came back to the boat that I finally realised and understood how special this sighting was.

‘I realised it was a unique experience and was maybe the best gift that my beautiful islands could”ve ever given to me.

‘I kept up swimming with it and I got very close - even the eye was white.

From the size and shape of its fins, Mr Moreano identified the albino animal as a female.

‘All whale sharks found in Darwin’s Arch are big fat females, we have never seen a male or at least I haven’t,’ he said.

‘There is big mystery about our whale shakes: they all show up at Darwin and Wolf from June until November and they all go in circles around the arch dive sites.

‘Sometimes we have seen like five of them together but never seen one with mouth wide open neither males and the smallest whale shark we have seen is probably nine to 12ft.

‘But no-one has seen this albino whale shark since.’

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1 comment:

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