December 21, 2018

Thresher Sharks

There are many reasons that people take diving lessons in Malapascua. One of these is the amazing Thresher Shark.

The Thresher Shark is a sight to behold. Adults grow up to 5 meters, and have a very long tail that makes it distinct from other types of shark. If you’re thinking about going on holiday in Malapascua, you should make it a point to add the Thresher Shark dive site near the island to your itinerary.

Getting to Know the Thresher Shark

The Thresher Shark is a nocturnal predator, which means that it mostly hunts during the dark. It could look like any other shark from up front, but its most distinguishing feature is the extended length of its tail. You don’t find this in any other species of shark, and this is not mere aesthetics - the tail serves a very deadly purpose in hunting for prey.

A National Geographic team has traveled to the Philippines to observe the hunting behavior of the thresher shark, particularly the smallest of the three species found in Malapascua - the pelagic thresher shark.

Most species of sharks tend to hunt by swimming towards a school of fish and devouring any individual or groups of individuals unfortunate enough to be swallowed by their mouths. The Thresher Shark, as observed by the National Geographic team headed by Simon Oliver, uses speed and momentum to turn the tail into a deadly weapon in hunting.

What the shark does is swim towards the school of prey like any other shark would do, but at higher speed. When it is near to its prey, the shark will suddenly “brake” using its pectoral fins and push its snout forward and downward. At the same time, it unleashes its long tail at the fish.

 

 
 
The speed and the momentum of the sudden braking launches the tail at very high speed over the shark’s body.  Oliver’s team observed that any group of fish that receives the brunt of the shark’s attack get mutilated by the impact of the tail hitting their bodies. The thresher sharks then consume their kill at leisure.

There are three types of thresher sharks, namely:

  • - Common thresher
  • - Big eye thresher
  • - Pelagic thresher

In addition to fish, thresher sharks also prey on squids, octopus and crustaceans like lobsters, shrimps and crabs.

Where Can We Find Thresher Sharks?

The thresher shark is found all over the world, but Malapascua holds the distinction of being one of the places in the globe wherein one has a good chance of diving and sighting these majestic beings every day. Monad Shoal is the prime location where divers and tourists can encounter thresher sharks. The shoal is located around 27 meters from the surface of the waters around 30 minutes away from Malapascua Island. While food is a prime motivation for thresher sharks to visit Monad Shoal, there is another reason why they can be seen in significant numbers in the sunken island.

Thresher sharks frequent Monad Shoal because of the fish called cleaning wrasse. The sharks have a symbiotic relationship with the creatures. The wrasse consume dead skin in various parts of the shark’s body and prevent infection from developing. For this reason, the sharks do not consider the wrasse as prey.

In addition to the majestic thresher shark, you can also find many other sea creatures in the cleaning stations of Monad Shoal. These include rays, and the thresher shark’s cousins like the hammerhead, grey reef and whitetip sharks.

 

Are Thresher Sharks Dangerous to Humans?

The thresher shark does not recognize the humans as prey, and are in fact startled by any diver’s presence. However, the thresher shark, like any other shark in the world, are considered endangered because of the fin trade. Monad Shoal has been declared a marine sanctuary, which means that no one can hunt thresher sharks and other marine animals within its area. When diving, thresher sharks will mostly swim away from you when they detect your presence. They are easily startled by bubbles coming from your scuba diving gear, or from any sudden movement. We recommend that you stay still when encountering thresher sharks to maximize your experience.

Tips For Your Thresher Shark Dive

To make your experience totally unforgettable, you will need to prepare adequately for your thresher shark dive experience.

Take note of the following tips:

  1. Take a PADI scuba diving course

    Beginners are mandated to take a PADI Open Water Diver Course first. Our instructors are highly experienced and well-equipped with the knowledge needed to teach you the open water diving skills necessary to dive. OW certified divers will then need to take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course to see the thresher sharks as the dive site is deeper than 18m which is the limit for OW divers

  2. Wake up early on the day of your dive

    The thresher sharks visit Monad Shoal just before sunrise in order to utilize the “cleaning stations.” Thus, you have to get up as early as 4 am to get ready for the dive, as the shoal is over half an hour by boat from Malapascua Island itself.

  3. Avoid flash or strobe photography

    The harsh light of the strobe will scare the thresher shark away. Remain absolutely still or minimize your movements when you encounter thresher sharks to avoid scaring them away. 

 

Exotic Dive Island Resort is Malapascua’s first ever dive resort. Contact us now to book your stay, and your diving activities off Malapascua Island today.