Author: Claudia Milea
The Thresher Shark – one of the most shy and elusive shark
Impressed by the grace of the gentle giant from Oslob, we headed our steps to the last point of our expedition, Malapascua Island, for Thresher Shark(Alopias vulpinus) meeting. One of the most shy and elusive shark, the Thresher Shark is often spotted near Malapascua.
Named the new Boracay due to the tropical landscape, the assault of the tourists and the massive investments, the area offers the tranquility that the active nightlife of other exotic corners of the world has chased it away.
Although the road was quite long, made up of five segments: Alona – Tagbilaran taxi, Tagbilaran – Cebu ferry, Cebu – Maya taxi, Maya – Malapascua boat (directly on the resort beach), it worth the effort and we finally got there, to a true tropical paradise, ready to check in at Evolution, one of the best rated resorts on the island.
Our joy was great when, after various accommodations, we came to have a private beach, as a few people was crossing the area, we could find at any moment an available lounger and almost no one around. The usual seafront you can find at any resort, here was actually a sandy alley delimited from the edge of the beach by an “edge” made of coconut trunk and surrounded by exotic plants that we strive to cultivate in the temperate zone.
From our arrival we noticed a well-equipped and well-organised diving centre, performant equipment, school of rebreather and technical diving, but we all knew that because we had chosen the location knowingly.
Monad Shoal – marine sanctuary for Thresher Shark
Malapascua is a small island with an area of about 6 km, becoming famous due to the diversity of the marine environment that has attracted divers: although there is a vast number of diving sites, the most sought after is Monad Shoal, a marine reserve for thresher sharks. Pelagic creatures, these fish mostly live at great depths and are shy about meeting the divers. Monad Shoal is the only place in the world where the thresher shark can be seen regularly at a depth of about 20 meters as it is a “cleaning station” and they spend time to let themselves be sanitised by fishes, to get rid of various parasites from the skin, gills and mouth.
The daily diving program at Evolution requires departure at 5.30 am at Monad Shoal for a meeting with thresher sharks. We were sleepy but impatient, and after half an hour, as the sun rose, we came to the scene. The diving plan was simple: descend to about 20 meters, and swim along the edge of the plateau to the place where the sharks were much expected, with a rope installed between two fixed points , used by the divers to hold on and beyond which nobody is allowed to pass. Also, it is not allowed to use the flash for photos and film not to disturb the animals. Surprisingly, though considered to be shy, the sharks at Monad Shoal are likely to get used to divers.
We also followed the briefing from the boat and once we got underwater we have recognised the meeting place by the multitude of divers docked in a straight line, clinging to the rope. I also sat in the place that was indicated to me by the guide and shot some films with the Olympus TG Tracker, my colleague Alin remaining 1 m above the bottom of the water, along the same line with us, without taking the rope, in order to be able to take pictures. We look forward to his view of the photographing experience, on his underwater photo blog www.fishtale.ro, because the lack of flash in the presence of graceful and rare sharks at 20 meters underwater certainly gave birth to frustration. Yes, this is how our friends were, the underwater “foxes” that we traveled for, to the end of the Earth: they came out of blue, waving their long tails at about 2 meters in front of the audience, investigating us, the impressed spectators.
We will also post the dive movie for the public to understand why we were so excited about the sight of these rare creatures.
Our Thresher Shark story will be continued.