(eTN) – Regular and increased sightings of the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark, in the waters off Mafia Island, Tanzania, have prompted the Mafia Marine Park management to introduce and license dedicated ocean tours to show the fish to tourist visitors. Now over 10 years old, the park has started to attract more visitors year after year, allowing income generated from entrance fees to be plowed back into park infrastructure, which now features two diving facilities.
It was reported that recently nearly 40 whale sharks were sighted and information was also given that while a migratory species, the whales only journey down the East African seaboard to Mozambique and below, and also across the Indian Ocean, when plankton, their main diet, is getting sparse. They do, however, regularly return to the Tanzanian waters, as an apparent satellite tracking project has recently established.
Fed by the Rufiji river, the waters off Mafia Island are said to be rich in plankton, encouraging large concentrations of the whale shark to take up residence, mainly in the months between November and January and again between May and July, when organized whale shark sighting trips are much in demand.