The map below shows our October 2018 voyage with Coral Expeditions from Biak to Darwin. There is no doubt that the highlight of the voyage was swimming with whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay in Papua.
The whale shark is the largest non-cetacean animal in the world with an average length of 10 metres and weighing 9 tonnes. They are actually sharks although they have tiny teeth because they are filter feeders like whales, living on plankton and small squid or fish. The whale shark inhabits warm tropical or temperate waters, is pelagic and lives in the open sea, but seasonal feeding aggregations occur at many sites around the world including Cenderawasih Bay shown in the centre of this map of Indonesian Papua.
We fly from Darwin to Biak where we join the Coral Discoverer and sail south into Cenderawashih Bay (Bird of Paradise Bay) looking for the Bagans (floating fish traps) to which the whale sharks are attracted by an expansive seafood menu.
We leave the Coral Discoverer on the smaller Xplorer vessel and approach the Bagan with some of our group already in the water.
A whaleshark feeding next to the Bagan net. It feeds by sucking in large volumes of water and then expelling it through its gills
Is that me on the right? Look for another whaleshark in the background left. It was a fantastic morning and we had nine whalesharks around us including an infant.
Oh My! What a big mouth you have. Think of Jonah and the whale. The small fish attached to the bottom of the whale sharks live off whatever they clean off their skin.
Thank you to my fellow Coral Expedition explorers for their underwater photographs
To complete a wonderful day we went ashore at Kwatisore to meet the villagers, to be entertained with some traditional singing and dancing, and to browse their market
The next voyage to Papua, Cenderawasih Bay and the Spice Islands with Coral Expeditions will be in December 2019 and January 2020 aboard the Coral Adventurer. Please go to their website for more details.