"World's Biggest Fish Why tourists and researchers are flocking to Western Australia to swim with school-bus-sized whale sharks,"

"My God, look at the size of that one," shouts skipper Mark Small. A enormous gray shadow the size of a bus passes silently by the bow of our boat as we motor in the Indian Ocean two miles out from the coast of western Australia. Small whirls the helm and calls out to a crewmember to keep an eye on the marine leviathan.

Nervous anticipation runs through the boat's passengers like an airplane full of parachutists about to leap into the blue. We are going to jump overboard to swim with the biggest sharks in the world. Although they are considered to be harmless, we novices find ourselves making silent prayers as we adjust our snorkels and spit into our face masks. Even experienced old hands such as marine biologist Dennyse Newbound are keyed up, if for a different reason. "This is always the anxious moment for me," she says. "Is it a whale shark or not? Will this be a wild goose chase?"


The rest of this story can be found in the archives of International Wildlife magazine, at http://www.nwf.org/nationalwildlife/

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