When you slide into Cenderawasih Bay from the inflatable Zodiac, the first thing you’ll see is the colossal gaping mouth of the world’s largest fish. Those formidably sized jaws – they look big enough that one enthusiastic inhalation will suck you into the shark’s gullet – belie the gentle nature of these docile giants.
Finning alongside bespeckled creatures the size of a school bus is an extraordinary moment to treasure forever. Fishermen from Kwatisore village have developed a relationship with the whale sharks that congregate year round in this bay in West Papua.
The giant fish are attracted to the bycatch from the fishermen’s bagan platforms – they’re like large anchored outrigger boats – where nets are lowered each evening to lure bait fish with bright lights. Fishermen believe the whale sharks bring good fortune and reward them with anchovies when a catch is particularly successful. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, fishermen record daily sightings to help monitor the sharks’ numbers and identify any potential threats.
Because these are wild creatures whose appearance is not guaranteed, this long-term relationship between whale sharks and fishermen improves the opportunity for Coral Expedition guests to swim with the largest fish in the sea. You’ll be wowed by the experience.
It’s going to help if you are a strong swimmer.
With flippers you can swim alongside them and with good lungs right underneath them!
Swim with the whale sharks of Cenderwasih Bay on Coral Expeditions’ small ship expedition-style cruises between Darwin and Biak, Indonesia. First-time cruisers save up to $1600* a person on the 12-night Spice Islands and Raja Ampat Cruise if they book by 31 December 2019.