Shark diving with the
Thresher Sharks of Malapascua
Malapascua is the only place in the world where you can dive with the magnificent thresher
sharks every day, so come and see these amazing
creatures in action!
About Thresher Sharks
thresher shark, or Alopias pelagicus is a type of mackerel shark
or Lamniformes. In German it is known as Der Gemeine Fuchshai, or fox
shark. The threshers grow up to a length of 5-6 meters, about half of
which is the huge scythe-like tail for which it is named.
Thresher sharks normally live in deep water and are nocturnal (night
creatures), so are not often seen by divers in most parts of the world. Although they are seen occasionally
in other locations, we know of nowhere else they can
be seen so regularly. They have very small, sharp teeth and very big eyes
to see in the dark.They eat squid and schooling fish such as herring and
mackerel and they use their tails to "corral"
the fish into denser schools. The tail may also be used to stun the fish.They
will sometimes "breach" and can jump completely out of the water.
Sadly, like most other shark species, the number of thresher sharks in
the world is declining due to over fishing for their fins and meat. Monad
Shoal has recently been made a marine park to help protect these creatures.
Why are they here?
Shoal near Malapascua is a sunken island at 18-24m 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 carwash for fish!
What time do we dive?
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. During this time period you have a good
chance of seeing a shark, but as with most diving there is also an element
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, has recently decided on a protocol for diving with the sharks that will be followed by everyone. Each dive shop has a daily schedule and the time we dive changes each day - either 5am, 5.30am, 6am or 6.30am. This means there are less divers on the site at any one time. Since its inception in April 2008 shark sightings have increased dramatically for everyone.
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!
When is the best month?
We see thresher sharks year round. It is rare to have a day when no sharks have been sighted at Monad at all although it is not always the case that every dive groups sees them on the same dive. Thresher sightings vary each year, so it hard to predict the best month. Traditionally the best months are July-October and the January-February are not so good, but for the 2007-2008 season this has been reversed. During 2008-2009 there were no seasonal patterns and sightings were great year round. Sightings since November 2007 have been the best in several years so now is a great time to come.
Diving with Thresher Sharks on Malapascua
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 as per marine sanctuary rules.
What else can you see on the shark dive?
are not the only ones to benefit from the cleaning stations. The wrasse
also attract other pelagics. Manta rays and devil rays are often seen.
Schools of devil rays have been more prolific this year than ever before. Occasionally, other species of shark will be seen such as hammerhead 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