Whale Shark Season 2013-14

7 metre whale shark in Southern Leyte.

7 metre whale shark in Southern Leyte.

After excitement late in the season with frequent whale shark sightings in the 2nd half of May through early June, it is now time to declare the 2013-14 whale shark season as being over. And an unusual season it has been.

After perfect conditions in late October, our anticipation of the new whale shark season was overshadowed by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which, thankfully, caused no damage or injuries in Southern Leyte. As things returned to normal, there were regular reports from fisherman of whale shark sightings all around Sogod Bay, but not consistently at the usual congregation area near Pintuyan. This made finding whale sharks for guests almost impossible, as the area to be surveyed was huge. By early March hopes for reliable whale whark watching were fading when whale sharks began feeding in Calian bay near Liloan. Despite extremely limited visibility we enjoyed several days of superb snorkeling with several whale sharks in close proximity and no other boats in the vicinity.

The whale sharks were feeding extremely actively on shrimp spawn, and as that dissipated the whale sharks headed south and finally ended up at Pintuyan. We expected them to stay in that area, but strangely they didn’t and April and May yielded no whale shark sightings, or even reports of them from fishermen, until the late season flurry a couple of weeks ago.

The reasons for this unusual pattern of whale shark behaviour are unknown. Some people attribute it to the heavy seas brought on by Typhoon Haiyan; others to the artificial feeding undertaken at Oslob in southern Cebu. Neither of this explanations stands up to rational analysis, and the most likely explanation is just natural variation.

Certainly we’re looking forward to the return of the whale sharks and some great whale shark watching next season which should start around late October. In the meantime, we can enjoy the ‘summer’ which usually brings us great weather, superb diving and snorkeling conditions, and consistent south-westerly breezes for excellent sailing.

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