COMO Maalifushi is a luxury Maldives resort renowned for its commitment to offering guests innovative experiences whilst on their Indian Ocean getaway. December 2017 saw the launch of one such new excursion; the opportunity to see – and swim alongside – whale sharks in their natural environment.
COMO Maalifushi’s location in the Thaa Atoll of the Maldives archipelago (around an hour’s scenic seaplane flight from the international airport on main island Malé) means it’s surrounded by perfectly clear waters that burst with biodiversity. Even snorkelling just off the beach, guests have the privilege of seeing all kinds of aquatic life. The resort is also a 20-minute boat ride from a known whale shark feeding area, and now a new partnership with ECOCEAN has facilitated trips to see these majestic creatures.
ECOCEAN is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of whale sharks in the wild, and their partnership with COMO Maalifushi means you can be sure any voyages are low-impact and won’t have any negative effect on the whale shark population. In fact, quite the opposite is true, as the trips double up as research missions for ECOCEAN, so are helping contribute to scientific understanding and conservation of the species.
Those who choose to embark on this marine experience will enjoy a boat ride to the feeding area after sunset to watch the whale sharks from the vessel. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even get in and snorkel with the sharks alongside a trained guide. The clarity of the Indian Ocean waters here makes for an ‘aquarium-like’ view of the creatures.
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world and can grow to over 10 metres long, but don’t let the size of these creatures worry you. Unlike other shark species whale sharks aren’t strictly predators; in fact they feed more like whales (hence the name), filtering food such as plankton and small fish from the water. Little is known of their behaviour and species numbers in the Thaa Atoll, which is why ECOCEAN were so excited to partner with COMO Maalifushi for this project.
As each whale shark has unique markings (much like our own fingerprints), they can be identified and monitored individually. The ECOCEAN team also uses a custom-designed, minimal-impact satellite tracking device, which transmits an animal’s position when its fin comes out of the water during feeding time.
Of course, as with any wildlife experience, the resort can’t guarantee sightings on any one night, but with the help of experts and advanced technology, this is probably the best chance you’ll have to get up close to some of the ocean’s most elusive giants.
Heading to COMO Maalifushi? Our Travel Specialists can pre-book the Whale Shark Night Snorkel experience before you travel. This is a seasonal activity, running from December to April