Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world. They are believed to reach lengths of over 55 feet and weights of over 100,000 pounds. It is difficult to verify these numbers with animals so large, but there is no debate that next to some whales, they are the largest animals on the planet. They are sharks, not whales, yet they are harmless to people. Filter feeders, they open their gaping mouths to collect krill, plankton, tiny fish, and the eggs of some fish species. Consuming huge quantities of tiny animal life, they grow rapidly to enormous sizes. To a scuba diver, there are few sights as wondrous as that of the whale shark. Some divers spend a lifetime hoping for the opportunity to see one up close. They dream of the moment when one will pass by, allowing them a glimpse of their majesty. These divers from Float n’ Flag Dive Centre have journeyed to the Galapagos Islands aboard The Galapagos Sky, a vessel that takes them to the remote islands in search of hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas and other creatures that very few people will ever see. The whale sharks are occasionally seen in this area as well, although there are no guarantees, and their name is whispered among the guides and tourists who seek them out. “The lady” as she is referred to is held in high regard among those who understand how special she is. These divers were swimming through the ocean at 60 feet, admiring beautiful creatures and sights when the guide began shaking his underwater noise maker to signal to the divers that something unusual was happening. As they all turned to see, a massive whale shark appeared out of the blue, sweeping it’s 10 foot high tail back and forth as it followed the current. The shark swam right between divers in the group as they help up cameras and stared in disbelief. Passing within 2-3 feet of the cameraman, he was able to capture footage of the great beast’s tail as it passed. The sound of the water turbulence left in it’s wake can actually be heard momentarily as the tail missed the camera by mere inches. These gentle giants have no teeth and have never attacked humans. They are among the most gentle of creatures and pose no threat to divers. Strict rules prohibit divers from touching the animals in the Galapagos, and most places in the world, as tempting as it may be. This shark is a pregnant female who will give birth in the near future to hundreds of young whale sharks. Although they come to the Galapagos Islands to feed, nobody knows much about where they give birth, or where the young whale sharks spend their early years. With one of the most distinctive skin patterns in the animal kingdom, they are also one of the most beautiful animals. When this lady passed through and disappeared into the blue, these lucky divers all turned to each other in wide eyed wonder, fully aware of how privileged they were to share such an experience.