Saturday, 1 February 2014

Da-dum, da-dum

 On Friday evening we skipped our usual pool swim in favour of something a little more exciting.

We passed the beautiful RMS St Helena which had just arrived in port and headed out into the ocean.

You see, there was something rather special in the water.

Something rather large in the water.

Actually about 10 large somethings.

They were there to hoover up the ocean and in the process consume the thousands of fish eggs that are released at this time of year by the spawning fish.

They are whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea.

Until recently, little was known of their wanderings across the ocean until a photo was taken in St Helena waters last year of one that was clearly pregnant. Now the wonderful people in the marine team have tagged one to see where she goes. You can follow her too!

They are completely harmless, and just ignore boats in the water.

They also ignore people in the water. So, (strictly following the guidelines (p20) so as not to distress them or us) in we got.

And this is what we saw...

They were each between 4 and 10 metres in length.

They are accompanied by pilot fish and sucker fish that travel the oceans with them.

The pattern of spots is unique to each individual and a whale shark register exists to track their movements round the world.

They are gentle giants, although it is hard to remember that when they get close.

Especially if they come straight towards you. (Freak out, moi?)

So, massive fish, ocean at least 1km deep, what do we do? Encourage the Smalls to go in too!

They wore life-jackets and J held on to them in a vice-like grip, but we couldn't let them miss out on this one. We were hugely proud of Tall Girl and Tiny Boy for giving it a go.

Big Trouble doesn't like the sea though, so he stayed on the boat with his wee pal and supervised the Skipper.

So, for scale, the boat is 10m long. So are the fish. 

(Thanks to J for the underwater camera work - just breathing was demanding enough for me!)


  1. Wow again! That is magic Eleanor. What an experience.

  2. Wow so amazing! We swam with turtles in barbados, but whale sharks are huge!

  3. Wow! How amazing and special! Fabulous photos! :-) x

  4. Hi Eleanor. I found your blog through Grow Your Blog and am fascinated about St Helens now. I've looked on the map and it is so far from anywhere else. Do you mind me asking what made you move there? You mentioned that your husband took a day off work the other day. Is he a scientist / teacher? I hope you don't think I'm nosy, I'm just really interested in what drew you to move to such a remote place - apart from the obvious adventure that you're having, now that you are there. Thank you.

    1. Hi,
      Not nosey! J has taken a two year career break from his job in Edinburgh to work for the St Helena Government. He works in the Audit Service. We saw the job advertised and thought why not! The Smalls are little enough that it will not disrupt their schooling too much and I was not working so seemed like the ideal moment for an adventure. Eleanor x

    2. Thank you very much for that Eleanor. It's a bit scary actually, because my husband and I have both worked as auditors in the past. It could be us in St Helens! In fact, we met on an audit in the Cook Islands - a very remote group of Pacific Islands. We spent seven weeks there auditing all of their Government. I hope you enjoy your stay in St Helens.

  5. What an amazing adventure for you. Thank you so much for sharing. It's nice to know that there are places that are preserving and protecting ocean life.

  6. Beautiful experience, something your Smalls will never forget :)

  7. some kids go to Center Parcs yours get to do amazing will their memories be

  8. A wonderful post, I adore Whale Sharks & what a fantastic experience for your children.

  9. Amazing - just amazing! Maybe someday we'll be there at the right time of year...

  10. Wow, what an incredible experience for all of you!!

  11. Something to remember and treasure for ever Dad xxx