Whale Sharks in Djibouti
The whale shark is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 18.8 m. The whale shark holds many records for size in the animal kingdom, most notably being by far the largest living mammalian vertebrate.
Djibouti is fast becoming known as a great tourist destination. It’s extremely diverse and colorful marine life hugely contrasts with its volcano-like dry mountains rising out of the sea. With over 200 coral species that are mostly native to Djibouti and the absence of rivers that flow into the Red Sea, has made the coral growth one of the healthiest on earth. Among its diverse marine life are whale sharks. These majestic giants of the sea still baffle marine scientists with their migration pattern. Take for example the story of a random entire shiver of whale sharks popping up off the coast of Madagascar.
What to expect during whale shark diving in Djibouti
There are few things to know before diving into Djiboutian waters: it’s possible to take a boat trip during the day or at night. Obviously, avoiding dives during peak hours of the day is an absolute advantage: it increases visibility and the likelihood of encountering the whale sharks. The average visibility can vary from 5 to 20m (16 to 66 feet), so perfectly suitable for any level of experience. As for diving conditions, Djibouti is known for its strong currents coming in from Yemen and hitting the Red Sea, which can greatly impact the quality of visibility. However, it remains possible to experience optimal visibility as you dive or snorkel next to them, which happens to most travelers. When it comes to diving safety, it’s imperative to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving as predicting what can happen is understandably impossible.
How much is Whale shark diving in Djibouti
A day trip with one travel agency can cost around 80$-100$ for snorkeling and USD$90-170 depending on where you want to experience whale sharks. The trip lasts around 9 to 10 hours and the boats depart from Djibouti city.
Diving clubs and operators
As tourism is not quite developed in Djibouti, there are only a handful of good dive operators that make day trips, and most are only active during the peak season of the whale sharks’ migration. Rushing Waters Adventures is an American-owned operator that’s been ranked the best in Djibouti. They also run the Djibouti Kayaking Waters. Dolphin Services is another good company that also offers diving courses. Some major hotels such as the Sheraton Hotel of Djibouti and its partners have a special package including snorkeling and diving for guests.
When to go diving for whale sharks in Djibouti
What makes Djibouti such a special place to dive is the long period of time that the sharks remain in the area. However, the best time to spot them is between November and February. During this time the temperatures are mild and the humidity is bearable, and it’s also when they come to the Gulf of Tadjourah looking for plankton found close to the islands of the devil this bay is crucial in the development of baby whale sharks that stay confined to the safe waters for more than 4 months.
Where to dive for whale sharks
Like any scuba diving destination in the world, there are some dive sites that are only suitable for experienced divers. Dive sites in the area are diverse, ranging from reefs and caves to shipwrecks and drifts. Whale sharks can be found close to shore during peak season, but they can also be found in deeper waters where operators travel. The best places to spot these majestic fish are:
The Island of the Devil
The Island of the Devil or “Goubbet-Al Kharab” is very rich in plankton. Currents here can reach a greater intensity than 2 knots, making this site perfect for greater visibility of the whale sharks that spend most of their time close to the shore, especially if they have their young with them.
For experienced divers only, the Seven Brothers or Swabi Islands are an excellent site for scuba diving. They are located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea from Bab – Al Mandab. This spot is also an excellent site for open water diving, as there are extremely biodiverse sites nearby.
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