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Diving With Thresher Sharks in Malapascua

By Edited Jul 14, 2016 0 0

Malapascua Island has something for all divers, so come and dive the best kept secret of the Philippines - indeed of South East Asia. The Philippines is the hottest diving destionation in Asia right now, with much better diving than Thailand and without the crowds. What Malapascua diving offers is the only daily thresher shark sightings in the world, whitetip sharks, mantas, hammerheads (seasonal), wrecks, mandarin fish, countless nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, beautiful unspoiled coral gardens and a huge diversity of marine life.

Malapascua would likely have remained unknown outside of a extremely small group of pioneer divers, if it hadn't been for some German photographers and writers linked with leading German scuba magazines, who came along afterward and told the story. Subsequent to this, divers inevitably started coming to Malapascua, resulting in a a small number of dive operators opening stores and resorts. The word further spread, when the late Steve Irwin came along and did a nature documentary on the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal. That perhaps was what actually opened people's eyes to the splendor of the shy, silvery and bigeyed sharks.

Thresher sharks on the whole live in deep water and are nocturnal (night creatures), so are not often observed by divers. Although they are seen infrequently in other locations around the world, we know of nowhere else they can be seen so regularly. They have very small, pointed teeth and very big eyes to see in the dark. They eat squid and schooling fish such as herring and mackerel and it is thought that they use their tails to "corral" the fish into denser schools. The tail may also be used to stun the fish. They will sometimes "breach" and can jump completely out of the water.

The sharks are not hazardous to humans and will swim over the side of the shoal if startled. Threshers like to ring, sometimes in twos and threes, so if we see a shark as it is swimming away, it is likely the shark(s) will soon come back into vision. On our dives, we move unhurriedly, and if we see a shark, we stop and wait. If we stay motionless and make no sudden movements, sometimes the sharks can draw closer so close you could almost touch them. We never swim after the sharks or use camera strobes as this will scare them away.

Thresher sharks are observed year round. It is rare to have a day when no sharks have been sighted at Monad Shoal. Thresher sightings fluctuate each year, so it hard to predict the top month. Traditionally the best months are July-October and the January-February are not so good, but for the 2007-2008 season this has been reversed. During 2008-2009 there were no seasonal patterns. Sightings since November 2007 have been the best in several years so now is a great time to come.

Unfortunately, like most other shark species, the number of thresher sharks in the planet is declining due to over fishing for their fins and meat. Monad Shoal has recently been made a marine park to help guard these creatures.



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