Koh Chang’s Whale Sharks

Whale Shark DrawingThe first thing to tell you is don’t get your hopes up. The majority of those who go Scuba Diving in the waters of the Koh Chang archipelago never get to see one.

BUT a few times a year fortunate divers and snorkellers are able to see and occasionally swim with a Whale Shark in Koh Chang waters.

This gentle and slow moving giant, Rhincodon typus if you’re a Latin fan, is the world’s largest fish. It is, of course, a shark and not a whale but if you’re thinking Jaws you’re way off the mark. Whale sharks feed on tiny ocean organisms like Krill and Phytoplankton by sucking in huge mouthfuls of ocean water and filtering out the good bits.

They are solitary creatures that spend most of their time in the deep oceans of the world’s tropical and warm temperate zones although sometimes they can be seen gathering in larger numbers in shallower waters to feed.
The individuals that are seen around the Koh Chang Marine National Park are generally juveniles. This means that they are (only) 8-10m in length in comparison to mature specimens which can grow up to 18 metres during a lifespan thought to extend up to one hundred years.

They pose no threat or danger to humans other than the risk of an accidental knock from their huge fin and indeed they seem relaxed and unconcerned in the presence of divers. When you’re that big you can probably afford to be.
The best way to find out if these placid giants will be holidaying at Koh Chang at the same time as you is to ask at one of Koh Chang’s dive operators. They will be sure to tell you if there have been any recent sightings and more than happy to take you to where they were last sighted.

Keep your fingers crossed and you might get lucky!