Check out Paolo Isgro’s review on Wetpixels forum following his stay with us last year. We are looking forward to seeing more of his amazing photographs after his second stay with us this December. Below are a few of the images showcased in his trip report. Thanks Paolo for sharing.
In early February, our guests had the opportunity to observe a team from Conservation International (CI) mount a satellite tag on a whale shark. The satellite tags record location, depth, and water temperature, and transmits that data every time the dorsal fin of the shark breaks the surface. This information will allow them to monitor the whale sharks movements over the next two years. According to CI, their program is the only one of its kind in the world. They currently have tagged less than 20 whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay and only 4 in Triton Bay as of Feb 2017.
Very little is known about whale sharks. CI’s monitoring and ID program here and in Cenderawasih Bay indicate that well over 90% of the 100+ individuals who have been identified so far are young males. They don’t know where the females or the adults are, and it is becoming apparent that Cenderawasih & Triton Bay must be some kind of nursery for young whale sharks. Of the sharks that we have seen ourselves here, most are between 3~9m. Our guests help contribute to the database by providing photos of the area around the shark’s left dorsal fin for identification.
Triton Bay Divers would like to thank Dr. Mark Erdmann, Abraham Sinapar, and the team from CI for the opportunity to observe them in their work. To learn more about CI’s whale shark monitoring program, please check out this link:
Even before my first visit to Triton Bay, I had known there was a resident population of Bryde’s whales here. But throughout the first few months we never saw them, and I admit I had doubts as to their existence. When I finally saw a water spout (but not the whale itself) I knew the reports were true. Eventually we did see the whales, but it was well into our first season. Sightings are still rare and far between.
Bryde’s Whales (pronounced as “broo-dess”) are baleen whales and are similar in appearance to minke, fin, and sei whales. There are two, maybe three different types of Bryde’s whales; the ones around Kaimana are coastal and are here year round. This particular species prefers warm water – it is the only baleen whale that spends all its time in tropical or sub-tropical water. They feed on anchovies (which are also favored by the whale sharks here!) and krill and grow to a maximum size of around 16m. For more information on this species, please check out this link.
These whales are not easy to approach as they just submerge if the boat gets too close. One August day coming back from Kaimana we saw them breaching from afar. We approached slowly, killed the engines, and waited. The hope was that they would come check us out, and one did, allowing me to get some video. This particular whale was about 10m long judging from the distance between his dorsal fin and his blow hole. There were at least two of them, and most likely more as we saw the whales surface from at least 3 different directions around us. It was such a thrill to see this animal up close and words just can’t come close to describing the feeling.