There are plenty of fish in the sea off the coast of Thanda Island in the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve of Tanzania, but none as impressive to behold as the biggest fish of all: whale sharks. The gentle, slow-moving giants of the deep will soon be feeding just south of Thanda Island, offering guests the memorable opportunity to swim up close with the largest living nonmammalian vertebrates on the planet in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania Luxury Safaris

The seas surrounding Thanda Island are filled with plentiful marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins and dugongs. Indeed, depending upon the season, guests may be able to watch turtles nesting and their eggs hatching. Five species of marine turtles can be found off Tanzania including green, hawksbill, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback, two of which – green and hawksbill – have recently returned to nest on Thanda Island.

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Meanwhile, the season to spot whale sharks is just about to begin. From October to March the chances for up-close encounters with the gentlest giant of the ocean will be extremely high. Their sheer size, calm nature, and tendency to swim at the surface at known sites make whale sharks a focal species for marine tourism in the area: They can be observed while snorkeling, scuba diving or viewed from Thanda’s luxury adventure vessel, ably commandeered by a trusted captain.

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Depending on guests’ vantage point of choice, whale shark photographs can be uploaded to ecoocean.org and whaleshark.org, two photo identification sites that study the unique pattern or ‘fingerprint’ of each whale shark.  The information is used to learn more about their little-known feeding, migratory and breeding patterns. To retain memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, Thanda Island marine guides are equipped with GoPro cameras to record guests’ time with the whale sharks.



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