Happiness is Swimming with Whale Sharks
So on passing through Atlanta a couple of months ago I was considering going to the Georgia Aquarium. While looking at the website for information I saw a tag line for swimming with the whale sharks at the aquarium. I was very excited, first, I didn’t know any aquarium had whale sharks in captivity and not only did they, but I could swim with them! I was immediately in and went to the website to schedule only to find out of course, there was a bit of waiting period. So knowing I would be back through Atlanta in late October I booked a date for my swim with the whale sharks. Swimming with them has been on my bucket list for a long time, they are the world’s largest fish after all and I still hope to swim with them in the wild, but I couldn’t pass on this opportunity.
The experience was amazing and started of course with a visit to the aquarium and here are a couple of images of the exhibit and the various type of animals in the tank with the whale sharks, and yes those are other sharks as well. My favorite other critter was the huge manta ray, it was 12 feet across and 18 feet from head to the tip of the tale. At one point during the swim it came up from behind me and glided past about a foot below me, it was absolutely amazing.
We were escorted behind the scenes to check out the tank and get oriented and suited up for the swim. Here are a couple of shots of the tank and one of a sea turtle that is about to be added to the exhibit.
We then took to the water, the swim is done in a full wet suit with the option of using a breather or a snorkel. You’re fully buoyant so and swimming quite slowly so no need for weight belts or fins. Basically you slowly swim around the tank as the fish swim by. The animals have absolutely no fear of you and I was hoping that one of the other sharks would come close but the closest I got was about 15 feet from a black tip reef shark. You are not allowed to touch the animals, they are allowed to touch you. One of the most amazing parts of the swim for me was having an 18 foot whale shark swim right between me and my swim buddy and somehow not bump either of us, they are amazingly graceful creatures.
My best friend was along to take photos through the glass so I owe her the photo credit and my thanks for the following shots. The experience lasted 30 -40 minutes and was amazing, it was so serene and peaceful floating along in the tank with these magnificent creatures all around. One tip if you are contemplating this for yourself, even if you’re a diver, do the swim. The divers camp out on the bottom and if you notice in my pics of the tank, the whale sharks typically swim pretty high in the water column so you get much closer on the swim typically, although you may get closer to the other sharks on the dive. Enjoy the photos and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane