Muscat: Every year, Oman ushers in the world's largest known species of shark — whale sharks, which congregate along Muscat's coastline delighting marine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

These gentle giants can weigh up to 20,000 kg with lengths stretching up to an incredible 20 metres. They hold an air of mystique due to its immense size and serene nature.

Whale sharks are often found in tropical and subtropical waters, preferring regions with increased plankton concentrations serving as a vital food source.

"While it's still not yet the whale shark season, sometimes they will come by. This year we have been lucky to see them early, and have been seeing a small number of them around for the last few weeks," Bassam al Balushi, captain of Finboat Tours explains. "Normally the whale shark season is from August to September. They come closer during this time because their favourite food — a specific type of algae called Sargassum — is in abundance during this time. This is when we see them in the area between Al Mouj and Dimaniyat islands".

"The sight of these migratory animals in large groups is truly a sight to behold," Asaad al Hasni, co-founder of Mobula Dive Centre, explains. "Divers often speak of the dream-like encounter, as whale sharks glide through the waters sometimes in groups numbering up to 50 in a single expedition." For those seeking an unforgettable encounter with these majestic creatures, snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions to Dimaniyat Island allow them to witness whale sharks up close. The distinctive white markings on their backs, coupled with their massive size and captivating presence against the backdrop of the ocean's depths is bound to create an unforgettable experience.

These filter-feeders pose no threat to humans, living only off a specialised diet of plankton and small fish is facilitated by rows of tiny teeth. Despite their size, whale sharks are known for their docile nature and unhurried movements, often seen near the water's surface or leisurely basking in the sun to regulate their temperature.

While the annual appearance of these creatures in abundance is a remarkable event, it comes with a responsibility to protect their well-being and the preservation of their habitat. Ethical and respectful interactions serve as a foundation for the long-term conservation of these extraordinary creatures.

As the season unfolds and Oman's waters become a playground for these majestic beings, let us remember that sharing the ocean with them is a privilege. Responsible interactions ensure that these guardians of the deep continue to enchant and inspire, reminding us of the mysteries that lie beneath the waves.

2022 © All right reserved for Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA) Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (