With a ‘Bucket List’ as long as my arm I’m always on the prowl to seek out new adventures and continue to challenge myself to achieve my goals.
It has been a dream on my bucket list for some time now to swim with the oceans gentle giants, the Whale Sharks. Other random experiences on my Bucket List currently include flying in a Hot Air Balloon, learn to scuba dive and visit the infamous Mount Everest.
Living in Oman offers many incredible opportunities – from mountain to ocean, there is an abundance of natural and unspoiled adventure opportunities to jump head first into. Swimming with whale sharks is one of those life changing experiences that is possible here if you put in some effort to make things happen.
Just a few weeks ago, I had embarked on a boat trip specifically in search of these famous creatures as their migration brought them off the coast of Oman. Sadly wild animals aren’t always easy to track and the trip ended without seeing any whale sharks.
Just when I thought my dream might be over for this season, my luck changed!
The call came in that a pod of 30+ whale sharks was spotted close to Muscat and was I free to join – it was a no brainer – lets go! With all systems go, I dropped everything I was doing, threw the GoPro, sun cream and some water in a bag and made the dash to the marina praying that today would be my lucky day.
After 20 minutes of motoring the boat out to sea, from the Al Mouj marina in Muscat, we quickly reached the area where these animals had been spotted. It didn’t take long for the first dorsal fin to breach the surface of the water. To my untrained eye, I wasn’t sure if these were perhaps dolphins… it wouldn’t be the first time the cheeky dolphins have tricked me with their fins!
To my luck, it was indeed the much-lusted-after sight of a whale shark! We cruised along and watched as the number of whale sharks around us grew to at least 10 at one point with many, many more on the horizon. Never getting too close to the boat, these creatures swam near enough offering us just a glimpse.
The dream of swimming with these majestic animals was getting ever closer and it was now time to get in the water quickly – but gently – before we lost our opportunity
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. Although their size and feeding habits resemble whales, they are indeed part of the shark family. Perhaps just the slower, more chilled out of the relatives. Even though they are documented to be incredibly gentle, it is still a very peculiar feeling deliberately swimming towards a wild animal of this size… especially a shark.
Watching them glide by so gracefully, somehow I lost my inhibitions of the size and the danger of being in the open ocean with a wild animal. As I swam alongside them, I found myself desperate for the experience to last a little longer
After being in the water for around 20 minutes with these amazing creatures, it was time to give them their space and move on letting them feed in peace – not to mention it is hard to keep up at their pace!
This was an experience that will definitely stay with me for a lifetime!
Now to book that Hot Air Balloon, learn to Scuba Dive and tick off a few more bucket list items. What is on your Bucket List?