By Pete Thomas
A Florida family was greeted Sunday by a whale shark “longer than a school bus” and accompanied by hundreds of smaller fish.
“I heard my husband yelling over his regulator and looked up to see a what looked like a rolling cloud,” Brock said. “There were cobia and remoras everywhere - then I realized they were attached to something, and that something was a whale shark!”
The rare encounter with a 30- to 35-foot whale shark occurred off West Palm Beach as Brock was scuba diving with her husband, Keith Brock, her 13-year-old cousin, Addie, and their guide, Craig Buss.
Whale sharks are the planet’s largest fish and can reach lengths of about 40 feet. Fortunately for humans, they’re filter feeders and subside largely on plankton and small fishes.
Brock and her group had been diving with Pura Vida Divers at spot called The Trench, and had begun its ascent ascent from about 60 feet when the whale shark materialized in the distance.
“They are rare in Florida,” Brock said. “People dive their entire lives and never get to witness that.”
Making the experience more surreal were all the remoras and cobras attached to or swirling around the whale shark. (Remoras often attach to sharks and will eat parasites and other organisms from the skin of the host animals.)
“Our teeth were chattering,” Brock said. “The whale shark swam right at us, and then through us. Such a gentle giant. He barely had to flick his tail (which was much taller than me) to gracefully glide through the water.
“When he started to swim away we all just looked at each other in total disbelief. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had diving!”