Only the dorsal fin is
visible from the shoreline.
Once common in the northern Gulf of Thailand, whale
sharks have become so rare that when one appeared off the coast in
Rayong, it set off a panic from beachgoers who didn’t realize that what
they were seeing was harmless.
Commonly found in the southern gulf and in the
Andaman Sea, whale sharks are one of only three known species of
filter-feeding sharks. While its mouth has approximately 300 teeth, they
are so small, they pose no threat to humans or any large animal. Whale
sharks feed on macro-algae, plankton, krill, Christmas Island red crab
larvae, and small squid or vertebrates.
After finding out the
whale shark is harmless, some brave souls even went snorkeling with it,
taking some underwater photos.
Only seeing the dorsal fin above water, and not
knowing what it was, people who spotted the great beast off Mae Ramoung
Beach Dec. 4 initially feared the worst. But their fears turned to
amazement with Marine officers went out and identified the 1,000 kg.
shark, thankfully only shooting pictures. In the past, fishermen and
hunters depleted the northern gulf of nearly all whale sharks.
Fisherman Prasert Sangkharak, 51, said he’s seen this
shark before, but remembers being surprised when seeing the huge dark
shadow in the depths. He said it often comes to the area during the
winter months to feed on schools of seasonal fish. Other than grabbing a
photo of it on his phone, he said he’s left the endangered whale shark