Whale shark's rare coast visit

Gigantic: The photo Pete Comerford took of the gentle giant from his boat yesterday.
Gigantic: The photo Pete Comerford took of the gentle giant from his boat yesterday.

A TWEED Heads dive charter operator was awe-struck by a visitor from the deep yesterday morning when it gave his boat a friendly nudge east of Cook Island.

An almost eight-metre, two-tonne whale shark shocked those on board by siding up to Pete Comerford’s vessel Blue Juice, then cruising over shocked divers’ heads about 9am at Nine Mile Reef.

Mr Comerford said he had never seen a whale shark – which are not dangerous – entering the area in more than six years he had owned Tweed Sea Sports.

“It pulled up right next to the boat,” he said. “I’ve just gone ‘Oh my God!’ and then it swung out over the divers.

“My boat is seven-and-a-half metres and it was definitely the length of the boat, if not more.”

National Geographic’s website says whale sharks are the ocean’s largest fish, but are docile and allow swimmers to hitch rides on their dorsal fin.

Whale sharks are listed as a vulnerable species yet continue to be hunted in parts of Asia.

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