Shark diving with the
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Monad Shoal near Malapascua is a sunken island at 16-32m whose sides drop off to 230m. The thresher sharks live and hunt in this deep water for most of the day, but in the early morning, before it gets too light, they come up to the Shoal, attracted by its cleaning stations. Here they have a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the small fish called cleaning wrasse which eat dead skin and bacteria from the shark's body, its gills, and even inside its mouth. Because the cleaning benefits these huge animals, the sharks would never think of eating the wrasse as an early morning snack. The cleaning stations are like a car wash for fish!
The Thresher Shark Divers team has tried to find the best time to dive with thresher sharks by extensive trial and error and a lot of experimentation. Our divemasters and instructors collect daily information on shark sightings and we record these details. So far, we have found that the best time to dive with the sharks is anywhere between sunrise and 9am, but usually we go early. During this time period you have a good chance of seeing a shark, but as with most diving there is also an element of luck.
There are all kinds of superstitions as to what will help you see a shark. One of these is that the first boat at the dive site will get the best sightings. We have found this to be false.
To minimize diver impact on the site and to maximize every diver's chance of seeing a shark, the Dive Shop Association of Malapascua, spearheaded by TSD, decided on a protocol for diving with the sharks that will be followed by everyone. When this was implemented, sightings increased dramatically.
If any of our customers wish to go at a later time this can also be arranged.
BREAKING NEWS!!! Incredible thresher shark sightings on Malapascua!!! There is a new dive site on Monad Shoal that we have called Shark Wall, that we have been diving recently. Sightings have been the best we have ever had during our 9 years experience on Malapascua Island!
We see thresher sharks year round. On any day, sharks are always spotted at the site, although occasionally a group will have bad luck and not be in the same place the sharks are. Basically, any time is a good time!
TSD offers a unique Thresher Shark Diver Specialty course sanctioned by PADI. You will learn a lot about thresher sharks and about sharks in general, and the Monad Shoal dive will never be the same again! To get a good idea of the course - long time TSD customer, Steve Tapply, has done many thresher shark dives on various trips to us since 2007. In 2014 he finally decided to take the course and it transformed his dives at Monad Shoal. Find out more from his blog entry.
The sharks are not dangerous to humans and will swim over the side of the shoal if startled. Threshers like to circle, sometimes in twos and threes, so if we see a shark as it is swimming away, it is likely the shark(s) will soon come back into view. On our dives, we move slowly, and if we see a shark, we stop and wait. If we stay still and make no sudden movements, sometimes the sharks can come so close you could almost touch them. We never swim after the sharks or use camera strobes as this will scare them away.
As Monad Shoal has a fairly deep, square profile, we recommend that you use Nitrox and double your bottom time at Shark Point. If you double your bottom time, you double your chance of seeing sharks!
Monad Shoal is an advanced dive site, so if you are Open Water certified you will be required to go with an instructor. Depending on your previous experience you may be required to do a checkout dive. Please contact us for more details.
Please note: camera strobes and flashes are not allowed.
Sharks are not the only ones to benefit from the cleaning stations. The wrasse also attract other pelagics. Large rays are often seen. Schools of devil rays have been more prolific this year than ever before. Other species of shark can be seen such as hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks and whitetip sharks. January-April is especially good for hammerheads. The shoal is home to a huge diversity of species: it is a great dive by itself - batfish, flutemouths, barracuda, tuna, mantis shrimp, pipefish, scorpionfish, free-swimming lionfish, moorish idols, schooling bannerfish, unicornfish, squid, octopus and various moray eels. You will often see these fish being cleaned as well and because they stay so still and are so preoccupied it is a great chance to observe them up close.
Thresher shark courtesy of Kelvin Aitken, Marine Themes Pty
More info on thresher sharks from The Shark Side of Life.
And find out more about diving with the thresher sharks from a customer's perspective in her blog entry!
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