The Whale Shark is the largest fish on the planet. It can be 12 meters or more in length. The mouth is big enough to swallow a man, but the Whale Shark is completely harmless. It feeds primarily on plankton, which they filter through the gills. They can also eat fish eggs and sometimes small fish.
South Ari Atoll is a reef 100 km south-west of Male. It is known to be the best place to observe Whale Sharks, as they can be seen all year round. The best area is outside Maamigili Airport, and all resorts in the area arrange snorkeling trips for their guests.
The best scenario for Whale Shark snorkeling is to be on a small boat and to be the first to spot the shark. Just follow the directions from the crew. When they shout "Jump!", you jump into the water, and shortly after will you be swimming with the gentle giant.
My first encounter with a Whale Shark was under almost ideal conditions. There were few boats around, and the crew of the boat dropped me off in front of the Whale Shark.
At another occasion were there 20 boats in a circle where a Whale Shark had been observed. When the Whale Shark was observed again, everybody jumped into the water. Most of them never saw the shark, because the visibility was only 15-20 meters. It was chaotic. My experience is that the Whale Shark will dive when there is too much disturbance. So I aimed for a spot between the most frenetic snorkelers and the edge of the reef. Soon after did I did see the shark and followed it for a while, but I was kicked several times by others as they tried to follow the shark. So I stopped and returned to the boat. After all, I have seen it before, so it was better to give the place to the others.
My best encounter with a Whale Shark was during a dive. The visibility was only 15 meters. Suddenly did a 10 meters long Whale Shark appear and passed close by (see pictures above). Only 3-4 divers in our group saw it; the others were looking at the reef.
Great places to see Whale Sharks are: