Whale Shark at Clipperton Island

Location: Clipperton Island coral atoll, Republic of France.

Comments: Visiting and diving Clipperton Island is a very special experience. The diving is different than anything I have seen before. The coral atoll is beautiful. The sense of history overwhelming. And I still haven’t decided whether the 5 million bright orange land crabs that cover everything in sight are cute or scary and evil!

I have to report that we haven’t seen many sharks yet. Three hammerheads and a couple of silvertips today and that was it – OH WAIT!! We also saw a nice 25ft whale shark swim by this morning!! We often see whale sharks at Roca Partida (Socorro Island) in November and December, and then they disappear when the water cools down as the cool waters of the California current push southward. The water temperature at Clipperton Island is presently 82˚F and I’m wondering whether the Socorro whale sharks head down this way to stay in nice balmy water?? Hmmm.

I had a wonderful dive this afternoon. Started out by going a wee bit deep and saw a large field of beautiful black coral, kind of greenish in colour with a black fringe. Beautiful! I was then swarmed by a large school of Bigeye Jack aka Bigeye Trevally  (Caranx sexfasciatus)!! I felt like I was in the vortex of a tornado with hundreds and hundreds (maybe even a thousand) jacks swirling around me, close enough to touch. Everywhere I looked, all I could see were 20″ brilliantly silverish jacks. I literally felt dizzy as they swirled around me and I became a wee bit apprehensive. And then they were gone save a small group of 12 who stayed with me for 10 minutes or so. One of the interesting things about Bigeye Jacks is that they often travel in pairs during reproductive periods at which time the males turn a very dark colour (almost black). All I can tell you is that all I could see was blindingly silver coloured fish everywhere. What an experience.

–Captain Mike


Weather: A beautiful day in paradise… Cumulous clouds drifting through but mostly sunny. Light winds. Swell from the north but sheltered in our anchorage. Temperature back up to 92°F.

Water: Water temperature of 82°F. Visibility 125 – 150 feet.

By Nautilus Staff

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