Animal Feature – Whale Shark heads to Perth for the Summer!
While Perth, Western Australia is known for crystal blue waters, spectacular crystal palaces of caves at Rottnest Island and plenty of life at local shore dives, no one quite expected a January visit from a Whale Shark. Normally Perth locals would have to drive 14 hours north or hop on a plane to Ningaloo reef to catch a glimpse of this big mouthed behemoth.
The six-meter spotted spectacle wowed locals as it cruised by to say hello, presumably heading south for the summer.
Local papers reported that the largest fish in the world has been tracked through monitoring tags as close as diving hot spot Rottnest island, but never before so close to town as here in the Cockburn sound.
There is some speculation that the increase in whale shark sightings may be related to rising global sea temperatures. Perth water temperatures are known to reach 23.8°C / 74.8°F in summer and autumn months.
Skipper Antoni says “It’s all connected, it’s not un-heard of for whale shark to make an appearance as far south as South-Western Australia. It’s definitely not every day, or every year you have sightings like this so close to shore.”
The Western Australian Parks and Wildlife service took the opportunity to remind the public that it is a legal requirement to keep 30 meters away at all times to ensure the beautiful animal’s welfare is not compromised.
Whale Sharks are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN’s threatened species list, meaning they are very likely to become extinct in the wild. Based on it’s size, this visitor was likely a young adult, large adults are known to reach up to 15 meters.
The IUCN has tracked the Whale Shark’s usual territory, this image extract shows usual whale shark territory surrounding Australia.
Perth locals are happy to add this marine mega-fauna to their visitor’s list, though it was noted that the Whale shark could not provide evidence of his whereabouts for the last fortnight. It has been alleged that he has been frolicking with a local remora population, despite current mandatory quarantine rules for some incoming travellers.