Utila Whale Shark Blog: The whale sharks are ba-ack!

Posted on February 14, 2008
Written by: Shark Savers

February 14, 2008
Utila, Honduras.

The Whale Sharks are back in our neck of the woods as well as postcard perfect weather. And it is a an honor for me to be able to share with you the effort that more and more people on Utila are doing to get to know the big guys.

My name is Isabelle Foisy, from Montréal, and I have been coming to Utila for roughly 5 years. I became a diving instructor in 2003 and an avid hobbyist on anything Whale Shark. This year on Utila, Steve Fox and I mandated ourselves with the task of gathering constant and more accurate records of Whale Shark encounters from anyone on the island who is interested. To become a hub for any information (for what we do know is that we don’t know much at all!) from any dive operation and whale sharking tour so we can at least have a full year’s worth of records. This has been met with great enthusiasm. We now have  Alton’s dive shop, Deep Blue Divers /Resort, Laguna Beach Resort, Utila Aggressor, and the Utila Centre for Marine Ecology on board. It’s sure looking good.

As part of Ecocean, we are committed to having as many photos added to the Photo-Identification Library as possible. To date, Utila has 55 different individual Whale Sharks listed. Anyone with a camera participates! And that’s exactly what happened with guests at Laguna Beach Resort and WSORC last week. We were able to submit photo-ID friendly images of 3 different whale sharks. One that was seen on February 7th and 8th sported a visual tag, #U629--the one we call Big Jim, named after the late Jim Engle, owner of Utila Lodge. Some snooping around found that this particular individual was tagged on April 24, 2007. It was good to see it return.

All that in one week and we are not even in season. Good omen indeed. Although they have been known to poke their nose in January then disappear for a short while.