Q: Do Whale Sharks have teeth?
A: Oh, I know this one…even though they are sharks, they a filter feeder so contrary to the shark stereotype, they don’t have teeth.
Q: Buzzzzz…wrong. They do have teeth. So where are their teeth?
Q: Buzzzz…nope, their eyes (as well as small ones in their mouths)
The Maldives Complete Tour isn’t the only exciting event this week as Discovery Channel kicks off its annual Shark Week (we hope our Tour will be its own version of “Shark Week” as well and we are starting off well seeing a Black-Tip and a White-Tip snorkeling this morning). This QI comes courtesy of the article “Giant whale sharks have teeth on their eyeballs”.
- “That sobering story is nowhere near the top of shark news this week, however. In yet another indication that the planet is tiring of us humans, it has been discovered that the world’s biggest shark has teeth all over its eyeballs…In the exceptionally named research article, “Armored eyes of the whale shark,” a team of researchers from Japan’s Okinawa Churashima Research Center discovered that these beastly predators evolved a unique defense mechanism for their vision: dermal denticles. These denticles are nothing new. Similar v-shaped scales cover shark skin. Structurally, they’re akin to tiny teeth. This feature helps sharks decrease turbulence and drag while gliding through the ocean, making them an even more fearsome fish—a tall order for a shark that grows up to 62 feet in length.”
And you thought whale sharks were the gentle giants of the ocean. They have teeth in their eyeballs!!
Another two things I love in the Maldives are logging apps (with maps) and whale sharks. Now the Maldives Whale Shark Research Organisation has brought these two great things together in their mobile whale shark tracking app:
- “Since 2016, we’ve worked with the team at Critter to develop a mobile app built on their Track system, and in 2019 we’re proud to release the next generation full of exciting new features. ‘Whale Shark Network Maldives’ now takes technology that has long been the preserve of scientists at desktop computers and puts it into the hands of anyone with a mobile device. This innovative approach representing a huge leap for efficiency in citizen science engagement caught the attention of Apple, who selected the app from over 2.5 million others on the app store and championed it in the Keynote of Apple’s annual World.”
Whale Shark Spotter on steroids. They’ve also merged two general features of Maldives Complete – (a) a spotting tracker, and (b) a database lookup (with individual profiles). Add a blog and you have Whale Shark Complete!
What is a complete guide to the Maldives without including the underwater wonderland that surrounds every resort? Which is why I introduced features like the Snorkel Spotter and the Dive Site database (over 1800 Maldives dive sites and counting).
I have a particular aesthetic fondness for the colourful dive site charts used to brief dives. Some are slick computer generated cartography while others are rough, smudged sketches. They all have their individual charm and story to tell about the aquatic world you are about to explore. But having curated hundreds of these diagrams, I spotted what has to be my all-time favourite on Instagram last week depicting Maamigili
in South Ari Atoll. I actually had a dive chart for that site in that database (see below), but it was nothing like the oeuvre of the Indico’s Secret dive crew (above).
Oftentimes, the charts focus on depth changes, key positional markers and the occasional resident marine life. This version was all about the latter. A whale shark to be specific. Let’s be absolutely clear here…when you are diving Maamigili, you have one thing, and one thing only in your mind and sights – spotting a whale shark. So rather than faffing around with lots of irrelevant topological features, the dive master simply drew ‘this is what we are jumping in the water for…good luck spotting’.
Black Friday today is the annual carnival of commercialism. The day after American Thanksgiving when all the families get together (“homecoming”) and have a Friday day off so they all go to the mall to get a jump on their Christmas shopping. For float aficionados, I had already added today’s feature to the resort Santa list. And now one lucky resort – Rihiveli Dream – finally features it. In fact, the whale shark float was the bequest of Maldives Complete and field correspondent Isley Lynn who stayed their this summer as a part of the artist-in-residence posting. Best Maldives Float Ever.
Someone who needs no straw in the Maldives is the legendary whale shark. It cruises the ocean with it’s up to 5 foot wide mouth completely open actively sucking in seawater which it runs across filter pads on its gills which sift out plankton, fish eggs, baby shrimp, etc.
At St. Regis Vommuli, you can get sucked into the mouth of the aquatic beast to quaff your own liquid nourishment at their award winning “Whale Bar”…
- “A tropical bar in the Maldives designed to make guests feel like they’re in the mouth of a giant whale emerged the big winner at international design awards held in London. The Whale Bar, St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, dreamed up by the Singapore and London-based design group WOW Architects l Warner Wong Design, beat out luxury hotels, residences, and restaurants around the world to be declared the most beautifully designed space at the SBID International Design Awards 2017. From the outside, the bar’s distinctive shape recalls the carcass of a giant whale shark. Inside, guests sip on cocktails against light-oak interiors, a soft neutral palette and Maldivian art.”
The whole concept reminded me of a tradition I read about when I first visited the Maldives for coming-of-age young men. Boys, often no more than 13 years old, would jump off a boat with a rope in hand, free dive into the water where a whale shark was swimming, SWIM INTO THE WHALE SHARKS MOUTH, and then OUT ITS GILLS, hence lassoing the fish. Young boys were the just small enough to pull off this crazy feat. I would certainly consider someone to have proven their “manhood” if they did such a thing. Not surprisingly, the government prohibited this practice years ago because too many young lads were drowning in the effort.
I would much rather toast my arrival at manhood at the Whale Bar, methinks.
(With this post, I’ve added the new topic tag of “Design”.)
Whale Shark season, Manta season, Whale Shark season, Manta season…
When (and where) to see Whale Sharks and Mantas are right up there in the Top 10 List of Frequently Asked Questions about the Maldives. A number of answers abound on the web especially in the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum, but none so illustrative as Moosa Fulhu’s 3 slides posted on the “Marine Biology in the Maldives” Facebook page.
May all your seasons bring tidings of majestic pelagics.
Forget the 3-days off of Monday’s holiday (Summer Bank Holiday in the UK, Labor Day in the USA), the highlight this weekend is Discovery Channel’s mega #Shweekend! And LUX Maldives is coincidentally holding its own shark celebration of most mega-shark of all – Whale Shark…
“LUX* Maldives will team up once again this year with the Maldivian Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) and IUCN for the organization of the Whale Shark Festival, to be held at Maamigili Island on the 29th of August. ‘To raise once again awareness of conservation issues and the marine diversity in the Maldives, LUX* Maldives has decided to support the volunteers working for MWSRP in sponsoring the Festival.’ A whale shark replica competition, sea-creatures sand sculptures and painting competition alongside a family scavenger hunt and special ‘cinema paradiso’ sessions with marine life documentaries will be organized. Above all, the participation of highly experienced Maldivian artists including the famous Maldivian singer Unoosha, as guest of honor will permit to add a heart-lighted exposition of the event across the South Ari Atoll, Malé and beyond. Unoosha will be performing as part of the Festival’s Finale and will be one of the three judges looking at costume design, the whale shark mascots and mobile art work created by local island communities.”
If you are planning your own holiday #Shweekend celebration, you might consider a tuna salad on the menu from Marks & Spencer. M&S have teamed up specifically with the Maldives to fund “Project Greenfin” which provides training and other resources to the Maldivian fishing community so they don’t have to rely on any shark fishing for their income and M&S have made a commitment to source only eco-friendly tuna.