Tanzania’s Mafia Island’ waters turn into a regular whale shark highway

Information from Dar es Salaam speaks of a windfall of marine experiences for tourists visiting Mafia Island, as increased sightings of the whale sharks have been reported in recent months. Marine experts are in fact at a loss to explain why against the more ‘regular’ behaviour of whale sharks, which are known to migrate through the waters at a steady pace, the more recent sightings indicate that they are lingering in the waters around Mafia Island for much longer periods than normal. Opinions are divided if this may be caused by a ready supply of plankton, the micro-organism the whale sharks feed on, or if other factors could be at play, something a study now launched is due to scientifically establish.

During the period between October 2012 and March 2013 some 87 whales were spotted in the waters off Mafia Island, many coming to the surface in order to feed while others were seen by divers deeper down in the ocean. From information at hand most of the whale sharks observed were males and again most of those sighted considered adolescents, not yet grown to the massive 15 meters the mature whale sharks can grow. Local operators based as the main resorts on Mafia Island organize regular whale shark tours for visitors, making it one of Mafia’s key attractions for tourists coming to this more remote island off the Tanzanian coast line.

By Atta media contact Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome