WHALE SHARK ENCOUNTER DURING A NIGHT DIVE AT MAK CANTIK
by Leow Nan Chye
On 27 May 2001, 3 divers headed out to Mak Cantik (Maxi Mount) for a night dive. It was a windy night. The site is about 3 minutes speed boat ride away from the dive centre. Maxi Mount is a submerged reef with a maximum depth of about 60 ft. and the top of the reef is at about 35 ft. deep.
This dive site is among the best in Redang and we have made many dives here. Many species of marine life can be seen here and on a good dive one may find the shovel nose ray, pipe fish, crocodile fish, demon stinger, lion fish, barracudas, large sting ray, etc.
We had discussed our dive profile and agreed on a maximum bottom time of 30 minutes. The water was a little cold as we wade towards the dive boat. On reaching the site, we descended using the buoy line and immediately went in search of the elusive demon stingers. First we saw a lion fish. The next find was a big decorator crab. These raised our hopes of seeing more things.
Then we got what we came for .... there were 3 demon stingers. We saw a crocodile fish as well and this is followed by a cuttlefish. The cuttlefish allowed us to play with it for a while. As we were half way through our dive we headed back to the buoy line and were indeed very satisfied.
Then suddenly I felt something big heading straight at me .... I swung my light towards it and I couldn't believe myself .... a whale shark right in front of my eyes ..... a 20 footer beauty ..... barely 10 feet away ..... the beautiful white spots on its body with so many huge remoras on its belly .... and its huge tail swinging as it cruised by us for about 10 seconds ..... It was perhaps attracted by our bright dive lights.
This is the first sighting of a whale shark in Redang this year. They are normally seen in September. This is also my first encounter with this majestic fish and is an experience which I will treasure for a long long time!
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Last updated: 21st November, 2003.