30-foot whale shark discovered off popular Gulf Coast beach

Male whale shark – Georgia Aquarium” by Trodel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Are you a big “Shark Week” fan? Got plans to go travel down to the beach before school opens back up in August? 

30 feet long

Panama City divers reported seeing a 30-foot whale shark earlier this week only three and a half miles off the coastline in the Gulf of Mexico.

On average, a whale shark can weigh 40,000 pounds and grow up to 45 feet long.

Last Monday, some local divers got a chance to see one for themselves, Birmingham’s CBS 42 reported.

According to their story, Diver’s Den manager and dive master Niko Pinero said the sighting was very memorable.

“I’ve still kind of processing it almost because it’s not often you get to see something that majestic in the water. The scope of it is hard to tell and pictures and videos even. And then when you’re alongside it, it’s breathtaking. It really is. It was just a really, really cool experience,” said Pinero.

The diver estimated the length of the shark to be 30 feet.

Common in the Gulf not on the coastline

Greg Graeber with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab told The Bama Buzz seeing a  whale shark near the coast is a once in a lifetime experience.

“They’re not uncommon in the Gulf and in fact return to coastal Mexico for the yearly coral spawning events which you can scuba dive around.

Having said that, within the shelf region of the northern Gulf, they’re uncommon. Plus  five miles from shore is pretty close. Since the whale shark is largest fish species in the world, the fisherman had a pretty awesome encounter and maybe a once in a lifetime experience.”

Largest Tiger Shark caught in Alabama

In keeping with the Shark Week theme, last week the largest tiger shark was possibly caught at the 90th Annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Dauphin Island. Reeled in by fisherman Brett Rutledge, the fish tipped the scales at 1019 pounds.

The previous record was 988.5 pounds.

Outdoor Alabama’s David Rainer wrote a fantastic piece about the fish that was caught and the presence of sharks in Alabama. 

A must read for Shark Week – which ends July 29th.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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