Rare sighting of whale shark

BRIAN OLIVERSound Telegraph

A senior marine wildlife officer says a whale shark spotted in Cockburn Sound last week is so rare, he does not recall a sighting of the fish in Rockingham waters for more than three decades.

Doug Coughran, of the Department of Environment and Conservation, said images and video he viewed of the whale shark, spotted 100m offshore at Rockingham last Thursday, indicated it was about three years old and about 4m long.

Mr Coughran said whale sharks were usually associated whale sharks with the Ningaloo Reef in the State’s north and it was unusual see them in waters south of Perth.

“We do have the occasional sighting off Perth, but certainly not in the shallows in Rockingham,” he said.

Mr Coughran said the farthest south a whale shark had been spotted was at Hamelin Bay in the State’s south-west.

He said the whale shark spotted last week could still be in the area although it could be on its way north to warmer water.

Visitors to the Val Street jetty in Rockingham said they had to look twice last Thursday when they spotted the whale shark.

Word of the sighting spread quickly and within minutes more than 20 people had gathered at the jetty.

Mark Burr was at the jetty with his friend Kate Shuard, who captured footage of the whale shark.

Mr Burr said he was surprised to see the fish swimming so far south.

“It was unreal,” he said.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen any sort of shark in real life, being a whale shark, this far down from where it usually should be.

“It was amazing to actually see it.”


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