Diving with Whale Sharks - OMG!

Malaysia's flag
Asia » Malaysia » Terengganu » Pulau Tenggol
July 13th 2009
Published: July 14th 2009
Edit Blog Post

This content requires Flash
To view this content, JavaScript must be enabled, and you need the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player.
Download the free Flash Player now!
 Video Playlist:

1: Whale Sharks! 265 secs
2: Whale Sharks! 269 secs

Whale Sharks! - Nature's Biggest Fish

In 7 years of diving, I've missed more whale shark sightings than the average diver - with something like 700 dives completed, I've never seen one. I'd stopped believing.

Each season on the Perhentians I'd miss the whale shark, either being on a visa run, taking a morning off, or the boat would be broken - I missed seeing these beautiful creatures time and time again. Until now. Now I believe!

We'd been told that a couple of friendly whale sharks had been seen regularly at one of the dive sites off Tenggol, so we dropped in, and waited - patience is a virtue and in two out of the three dives we tried at this point - the whale sharks turned up.

Saturday - 16:30 - first attempt - a whale shark glides past as we stop the boat. Unfortunately this is the only sighting for the dive.

Sunday - 17:00 - 40mins in - 5m whale shark - powers by - stays with us 2mins and dives deep.

I'm initially blown away by the size - this has to be the biggest thing I've been in the water with - long, powerful, cutting through the water with methodical swishes of it's tail. Finning at the limit I can keep up with it's slowest speed - and then it dives.

45mins - the 5m whale shark returns, then bumps into a 3.5m whale shark covered with Ramorays - the smaller of the pair spends the following 30mins with us - rolling around in a diver air bubble bath, maybe enjoying the relief from the constant itching of the ramorays or maybe just enjoying the bubbles flowing around it's body. Buzzed beyond belief we stay in the shallow water until the light fades, and we run out of air.

Monday - 12:00 - myself and Rich drop back in - the last dive of the long weekend - hoping that we'd get some midday light to help with some photos.

35mins in - 5m whale shark - powers by - stays with us 30s and dives deep.

45mins in - 5m whale shark returns - starts circling us - then it's joined by a 4m shark - and the two of them circle us feeding for 35mins - when we run out of air.

Awesome awesome awesome 😊

I'll jot down a few notes on the rest of the diving on Tenggol sometime soon.

The Camera

I used a Canon G9 with underwater housing, edited all the photos in Picasa - quick and dirty - Rich SniffandSnore - took down a Nikon D200 SLR - so when the blog is uploaded - you'll get to see the difference that $500 and $5000 makes to underwater photography 😉 - well not entirely - at full size - the DSLR shots will be clearer and sharper than these - here at 600px - you'll get a rough idea though.

Update: Rich's blog is here: Gentle Giants....

Quick Update on KL Life

The Plan

The idea of basing myself in Kuala Lumpur, a big vibrant city - but for a guy who loves nature, adventure - the city is a struggle - the move to KL was possible due to the amazing diving just a few hours away in pretty much any direction.

The Reality

Starting a business is a huge amount of work, city life slowly eats into the weekends, birthdays, people passing through, exhaustion etc etc - the weekends slowly get filled up, the long weekends away have to be planned further and further in advance. Luckily - with the help of my friends Richy and San (SniffandSnore) - this was planned far enough in advance to happen 😊

Thanks to San (organised the weekend), Rich (buddy), Terrence, Bernard, Lenny and Denise - also to Charlie, Wan and Robin (Tenggol) - additional commiserations to Lenny - who got flu on the island and missed out on the whale shark dives.

Stop Shark Finning - Save the Shark!

Update: 2nd Feb 2010 - I've just been informed of a way in which whaleshark spotters can contribute to research and conservation of these beautiful fish. WhaleShark.org - you make a report of the sighting, upload any photos that you have that show the spots above the left pectoral fin. This uniquely identifies the fish. I hope soon to have confirmation that these guys are hanging out at Ningaloo Reef currently 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


14th July 2009

hi ali sweet pix. wow! thats one big creature. congrats! glad you finally got to see one. hope all is well. best elie
14th July 2009

Waaaw really amazing work... thanks for sharing... ___________________ Andrew The Best PRICE for the BEST ENTERTAINMENT
14th July 2009

Lovely! I should start diving lessons soon
14th July 2009

Sick Pics!
Ali's blog front and center on the home page...I think this site is rigged. ;) Great shots, Ali.
14th July 2009

Hi Ali...really happy for you it did happen! I still remember my first meeting with a whaleshark in Tubbataha! Your pics are great...so now you can day dream like all of us...I'm really happy for you! So next stop Tofo??? There are a lot more of them there...need to let me know how easy it is to go to Tengol! On our side, no more diving for something like 2 months I think! Snif!
14th July 2009

I always wanted to see these majestic creatures of the sea. Hopefully I'll also get to spot one the next time I go on a holiday in the islands someday....cheers ! Jo:)
14th July 2009

I'm still buzzing!
Man you are quick! These shots have turned out superb mate! To think that this time yesterday we were still blobbing around with these fellas! I hope our lucky charm lasts! Will get to uploading some of the shots I took hopefully this evening... Don't think mine are 5000/500=10x better though...
14th July 2009

We're so happy for you!, that must be such an incredible experience... and 2 of them, nonetheless!!!!!! It's definitely on my to-do list, but since it's not entirely up to me, I'll just keep diving and hoping!!!!
14th July 2009

Fantastic pictures and a great blog. I've never seen a whale shark but I saw a documentary about them not long ago - they sound amazing! I know how tiring life in a foreign city can be; it's hard to live at your own pace with so many commitments, but the trick is to find good friends, which you obviously have, and be a bit more stubborn than you would be at home!
14th July 2009

hey,exceptional shots-keep it up!diving with whale sharks is an awesome experience.im so excited to see these beautiful creatures.thanks for sharing.... thetravelerszone
14th July 2009

congratualations! finally your patience really paid off. and i must say, you sure are a one of a kind photographer. you have the talent. nice shots you got there! really amazing. as to the experience, i wanted to have one just like yours. please do tell us more about KL!
14th July 2009

This is awesome!
Ali! This is truly awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing this adventure with us. Great photos!
14th July 2009

Yes, OMG - those sharks are so much bigger than the ones we saw in Sea Life, in Munich. I showed them to my daughter and told her if she sees any on our upcomming trip to Thailand, she is to come out of the water right away. I suppose, they are safe since you lived to show the photos. I am not sure I would be willing to test that though. :D ''...maybe enjoying the relief from the constant itching of the ramorays or maybe just enjoying the bubbles flowing around it's body. '' ...as long as they were not sizing up todays dinner...
14th July 2009

Whoop Whoop!
Yay, you finally met a couple of whale sharks, very happy for you! The pics are good, will keep a look out for sniffandsnore's.
14th July 2009

i wish i can see a whale shark one day too. now i am in rio enjoying my acai!!
15th July 2009

That's a Whale of a pic
Ali - fantastic job! You've got great talent at photographing. Just plugging away at your business, it will all come together. No pain, no gain as they say. I hope someday, to see a Whale Shark myself!
16th July 2009

Hi Ali, you are definitely making the most of your time away from KL... fantastic pics!! Take care :)
21st July 2009

WOW! Great pics. Terengganu here we come.
Great photos. I think you just sold me an stopping in Terengganu on my our way to Borneo ( Sipadan). We are in Laos right now on our Summer long Honeymoon. A whale shark would be a great memory to have. Tim
3rd August 2009

sensational pic again! you are my inspiration to want to photograph under water! x
17th August 2009

I saw it too @ Tenggol
I saw it too @ Tenggol last weekend..too bad the viz was so bad and cannot be captured by the camera..:( but it's in my memory ...hehehe
17th August 2009

I know how you felt, I have dived for 15 years and am waiting to see one, will prob drop by tenggol this week!
25th August 2009

hey ali, good to hear that you are considering settling down in KL :) and ur dives with the whale sharks were beautiful experiences - something non-divers get to see thanks to u :)
30th August 2009

Amazing video!!
At one point I thought you might swim in the whale shark's mouth and film his teeth. I found your blog via your comments on the types of travelers. Great comments. Respect from New Delhi my friend, respect!! http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/A-Travel-Story/ Dan Bell
16th September 2009

Gordon bennet
Hi Ali, It all looks incredible-beautiful creatures and great pics. Dreaming of diving whilst sat in the library!! Take care, Ailie
3rd November 2009

aw wow!!
awsome adventure with great pics!!... poor me coz I tried to dive few months ago and didnt find such amazing creature.. keep up your shots!! :D
28th November 2009

Reading this brings back memories of snorkeling with whale sharks on the Ningaloo reef in west Oz...that was pretty special. Now I really want to go back! Did you upload any of your photos to the Eco Ocean photo library project? They're cataloging each whale sighting...the spots are like fingerprints! And your shots are fantastic for identification!
22nd December 2009

You have done a mervelous job! personally I havent seen a whale shark but, the depth of your story is magnificent. Its more than being in the water. Words picked anf sewed together in a sequence, action following each other as you explain I am left speechless. Keep it up. Next time let me know when you are doing diving so that I can get the story.
7th January 2010

Blog of the year for the Asia/photography cathegory
Check this out :) http://www.travelblog.org/Forum/Threads/22180-1.html
29th June 2010

OK, so its been a while since you wrote this blog, but I have just seen one of your whale shark pics on the front page and had to follow it up to see what others you'd posted. They are fantastic - so much clearer than ours! I blame the water for being so murky when we met Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Australia! Arent they just the most amazing creatures though?! (Your pics may be better, but our whale sharks were bigger!) Awesome Ali, thanks.
26th March 2011
Whale Shark!

I can't believe you got up close and personal with these beauties. One for my bucket list someday!
28th September 2011

Like you...I have been very unlucky with whale shark sightings! What month of the year were you in mayalsia? Your photos are amazing!
19th March 2012
Whale Shark!


Tot: 0.107s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 24; qc: 53; dbt: 0.053s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb