[Written by Don Burgess]
A fisherman had a once in a lifetime experience when a whale shark — an endangered species — swam up to his boat
Mark Moran and two friends were aboard his boat Dry Socket when they spied what appeared to be two sharks swimming close to them.
“Me and two other guys were at Sally Tucker’s, which is a point out off the southwest of the island – it is out before you get to Challenger Banks,” Mr. Moran told Bernews. “We were out to fish overnight hoping to catch yellowtail and this was our first stop before the sun had gone down.”
They looked off the back of the boat and saw “the dorsal fin and the tail fin. The water was so glassy we couldn’t see and we thought it was two sharks.”
They were surprised that it was one large whale shark, which Mr. Moran estimates it was about 20′ in length. Mr. Moran, who filmed the encounter added, “We saw the head and said ‘Oh my God, it’s a whale shark!’”
He said being able to be this up close and personal left him “full of gratitude. It’s such a beautiful creature.”
“I was so grateful to experience this,” he said, adding he has caught and released 15-feet tiger sharks, seen fully-grown manta rays in the chum, and has seen a whale shark at a distance about four years ago, but has never been this close before.
“There is a certain innocence about this creature. When it came up it felt like it was coming up to say ‘Hi’.”
Mr. Moran said he wanted to express his thankfulness to the Government for passing environmental legislation. “I want to express my gratitude to the new shark protection legislation enacted by the Bermuda Government.”
The Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources note, “The Whale Shark is the world’s largest fish; it grows to 40ft long (12m) and can weigh over 20 tonnes. Whale Sharks have a wide flat head, shaped like a blunt square, with a very wide mouth in front and small eyes on the sides.
“In local waters Whale Sharks are fully protected under the 2003 Bermuda Protected Species Act. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the Whale Sharks as globally Endangered.”