Whale shark rose from Benham Rise

butanding-001

We had to be creative. Before plunging into the shallowest portions of the Benham Rise, the Philippines’ newest territory, we always deployed GoPro cameras with a dive computer,  tied to a rope and a sinker to check what’s beneath the Pacific waters.

One morning, in one of the stations, a whale shark rose and stayed with our ship for several minutes and we caught it on camera!

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) , locally known as butanding, is the largest fish on earth. Yes, it is a fish, not a whale. Though  widely distributed in tropical waters, it is considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN.  Though  fishing and selling of whale shark is prohibited in the Philippines, it is still being hunted in some parts. Also, emerging threats to whale sharks are irresponsible or unsustainable tourism practices.

 ** I am one of the team of Filipino scientists who first dived to see what’s in the waters of Benham Rise.

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