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Can I see Whale Sharks Scuba Diving in Phuket?

Can I see Whale Sharks Scuba Diving in Phuket?

Whale Sharks are the most majestic animal in Phuket & Thailand Waters

In this blog we will try and answer the question, Can I see Whale Sharks Scuba Diving in Phuket?

There are not too many seasoned scuba divers that don’t wish to scuba dive with a whale shark. They are the holy grail of scuba diving and the dream of many scuba divers both novice and professional.

2019 Update

Without any formal documentation it appears that sighting of whale sharks is on the rise from years past.

Although still a rare sighting, here in Phuket weekly sightings are now becoming common. As always, whale sharks do what they want, when they want wherever they want.

Good luck in finding your whale shark.

2015 Update

The 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 scuba diving liveaboard seasons have provided as much higher number of whales shark appearances than ever before. Conditions have been very good for these majestic creatures and the chance of seeing a whale shark have been dramatically increased when scuba diving off a liveaboard boat particularly at Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

Whale Shark Aussie Divers Phuket Scuba

Whale Shark Aussie Divers Phuket Scuba

Scuba diving with whale sharks in Phuket Thailand is based on being in the right place at the right time and lady luck has the greatest hand in you seeing one.

Unfortunately Thailand is not blessed with the large numbers of whale sharks like the seasonal feeding aggregations such as Nigaloo reef in Australia, some Eastern areas of South Africa, Gladden Spit in Belize and Donsol, Pasacao and Batanges in the Philippines.

Aussie Divers Phuket Whale Shark Racha Yai

Aussie Divers Phuket Whale Shark Racha Yai

Try and find your whale shark with Aussie Divers Phuket

Random Sightings

But Phuket does have some sighting but with no regularity or consistency. Some say that there are more appearances around Richelieu Rock to the north between the end of March and early April and reports around Hin Daeng to the south during the mid year but there is no firm or constant sightings.

In recent years the whale shark numbers have diminished mostly due to over fishing of sharks. It is reported that the sharks tail could fetch as much as USD $10,000 which is an obvious temptation for fishermen in poorer nations.

Whale Shark Suckerfish Aussie Divers Phuket

Whale Shark Suckerfish Aussie Divers Phuket

Try and find your whale shark with Aussie Divers Phuket

Numbers of the whale sharks are slowly starting to increase thanks to an international ban on the fishing of them and better education on the plight of these wonderful creatures.

However fishing is difficult to police and in February 2012 of the coast of Karachi in Pakistan, fishermen allegedly found a 12-metre whale shark floating about 150 km off the coast. The shark weighed over 7000 kg and was later sold for $25,000. There were able to avoid any prosecution due to the fact that they claimed that the shark was already deceased when they found it.

2011 was a good year for whale sharks in the Phuket, Thailand area with quite a number of sightings between August and September however in 2012 during the same period there were less than a handful sightings.

Good Luck Needed

As with a lot of the big sea creatures, the whale shark produces and lot of wonderful stories of good luck and hardship. There are many instructors in the Phuket with 1000’s of dives in the area yet to see a whale shark and a lot of those have hardship tales of turning right instead of left or having one in the immediate area just not to see it. Yet I have spoken to two divers I know who both saw whale sharks with less than ten dives to their name. Two amazing stories of instructors I know come to mind, one friend who had been diving 38 years and been working on liveabaord boats before she saw her first one only to see one again a week later and another amazing story of a dive instructor who had been scuba diving for 43 years and saw his first whale shark at Phi Phi in 2011 only to do a third dive of the day at Koh Doc Mai and was fortunate enough to see another one later that day.

I also have an instructor friend who saw his fist whale shark after 11 years and at the time he was instructing two PADI Discover Scuba Divers who were 5 minutes into their first scuba dive ever. How is that for luck.

There is also a great story with a dive company that conducted a scuba dive at Koh Doc Mai with the first dive of the morning and were lucky enough to see a whale shark. The left Koh Doc Mai en-route to Phi Phi, about half way to Phi Phi they decided to divert to see a pod of dolphins that were in the distance. The their surprise when they arrive they were no dolphin but a pod of 7 whale sharks which there were fortunate enough to snorkel with for a period of time.

So as you can see you need a bit of luck to see a whale shark here in Phuket Thailand. But there is one thing for sure, the only place you will see one is in the water. So get out there and do some diving and hope that it is your lucky day.

Try and find your whale shark with Aussie Divers Phuket

By Darren Gaspari

Proud owner and active PADI Gold Course Director of Aussie Divers Phuket, a professional and awarded PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Scuba Diving Centre. Member of the PADI Advisory Board for the eLearning modules 2019 and 2020.

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