Swimming with Whale Sharks in Papua

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.

October 2018 facebook


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.

Cendrawasih Bay

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.

WS3Oh 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


DSCN2417 - Copy



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.




About ianburnet

Author of the book, Spice Islands. Which tells the History, Romance and Adventure of the spice trade from the Moluccas in Eastern Indonesia over a period of 2000 years. Author of the book, East Indies.Which tells the history of the struggle between the Portuguese Crown, the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company for supremacy in the Eastern Seas. Author of the book 'Archipelago - A Journey Across Indonesia'. Author of the book 'Where Australia Collides with Asia' Author of the book 'The Tasman Map'. Author of the book 'Eastern Voyages'.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Swimming with Whale Sharks in Papua

  1. Randall Rutledge says:

    This really makes me want to take one of their cruises.

  2. ianburnet says:

    This will mean travelling in a style much more than you are accustomed too! Like cocktails on the upper deck, dressing for dinner, and table service.

  3. Arif says:

    Hi Ian, I like the way your writing. Its seems we also feel the waters and swim with the sharks around Cendrawasih Bay. We are agent who taking of Coral Expedition during her visiting Indonesia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s