Whale shark

Whale shark

Whale sharks are huge and can be spotted in open water in tropical climates. They prefer warmer waters – which makes Marsa Alam the perfect spot for them! They are usually found in temperatures above 21 degrees.  They are friendly, warm creatures and completely harmless to humans. They are huge, often reaching the average size of around 9 meters in males and 15m in females.

Whale sharks have over 300 rows of tiny teeth and 20 filter pads. They are slow moving, filter feeding sharks that eat plankton and other small sea creatures.  They are unique in that there are only 2 other shark species that feed in this way.  These large and powerful sea creatures have a life expectancy of between 80 – 130 years.

Whale shark’s mouths are at the front of their heads and the head is flat and wide. Their eyes are very small. They are usually dark grey and have a distinct white belly.  They also have grey or white spots or stripes that are unique to each one.  Their skin is rough and thick; it can be around 15mm thick which makes it very strong. Whale sharks have also been found to recover from major injuries by regenerating small sections of their fins.

Whale sharks are friendly and often allow divers and swimmers to even hitch a ride. Young whale sharks are very playful and even gentle with people.  However it is not encouraged to touch these sharks or any of the sea life because of the huge efforts made in conserving the natural habitat.  

Although there are no current recorded numbers of the population of whale sharks worldwide they are considered endangered species. They are illegally hunted in other areas of the world for their fins, skins and oil. International and local organizations including The Red Sea are continuously trying to educate people on the preservation of these incredible creatures.

The southern Egyptian coast is famous for shark sightings in general including the whale shark. Dive sites such as Elphinstone Reef are known for whale shark sightings depending on the season.