Tourists who rented a boat to go fishing had an unexpected encounter with a whale shark swimming up to the back of a boat for a great photographic opportunity.
Mr. Thira Phuphasuk, the owner of the boat, said that on Monday (23rd November), he had taken six tourists from Suphanburi on a fishing trip from Ban Bang Pu beach in the Sam Roi Yot District. Later in the day a large whale shark, about 6-8 metres long, swam to the surface and remained near the boat for about 20 minutes.
This was about 17 miles from the coast in waters around 30 metres deep. He described clear water and calm seas; ideal conditions for this exciting encounter.
Sopon Thongdee, from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said he has been receiving reports of whale sharks in the waters off the Prachuap Khiri Khan coast which he believes relates to conservation efforts with a network of volunteers and fishermen being involved.
Marine tourism operators are benefitting from a variety of marine species returning to the waters including Bruda whales and sea turtles. The sighting of whale sharks is another example of marine animals benefitting from conservation efforts.
The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources has been collecting information and images for a database of marine resources to contribute knowledge used to assist in the conservation of rare marine animals.
He added that that fishermen, marine tourism operators and tourists should not jump into the water when a whale shark approaches and that photographs should not be taken using the flash.