Guest article written by Mario Passoni
Although the Philippines are bursting with hundreds of different shark species, most divers visit in the hope of seeing the famous Thresher shark. Known for their unique tail and interesting hunting habits, Threshers are frequent visitors to Malapascua Island in the Philippines. Malapascua Island is one of the most consistent destinations around the world for thresher shark sightings – so there is no surprise why shark enthusiasts continue to flock here. If you’re interested in seeing these wide-tailed creatures underwater, we have you covered – just keep reading!
What are Thresher Sharks?
Thresher sharks are also called Fox sharks and are split up into three living species: Pelagic Thresher, Bigeye Thresher and Common Thresher. One of these species, the Pelagic Thresher shark (Alopias Pelagicus), is known to inhabit the waters of Malapascua Island. It’s the smallest of the three species (3 meters / 10 foot long and about 70 kg / 153 lb). Furthermore, this shark is characterized by the highly elongated upper lobe of its caudal fin, which is used like a whip to strike prey (especially small fish). In addition, this shark is a strong swimmer and can even be seen jumping out of the water (breaching). It’s not aggressive (no one has ever reported an attack on humans), and once it encounters a diver, it can be shy, usually changing direction and swimming away. Unfortunately the Thresher sharks population is declining, due to illegal fishing and pollution.
Where can you Find Thresher Sharks in Malapascua?
Malapascua is a small island in the Philippines, situated in the Visayan Sea close to Cebu Island. This tropical island is famous for being one of the most attractive dive destinations. Here it’s nearly always possible to dive with many kinds of marine creatures, including Pelagic Thresher sharks!
The Monad Shoal dive site is one of Malapascua’s most known spots for consistent Thresher shark sightings.. It should be mentioned that Thresher sharks are more active in the early morning, and at that time, they come to a coastal seamount which is a 20-30 minute boat ride from Malapascua to be cleaned by two species of cleaner wrasses. This is a cleaning station, and here Thresher sharks display a similar behaviour to Manta rays, if you’ve ever seen those graceful creatures visiting one of their own cleaning stations.
Not only thresher sharks in Malapascua!
Malapascua’s dive sites are famous for being home to a variety of interesting creatures, not just to Pelagic Thresher sharks. Around the island, at sites nearby you can spot Whitetip sharks, different species of seahorses and pipefish (including the ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses), squid, porcelain anemone crabs, cuttlefish, schools of tropical fish and more than 100 species of nudibranchs! Moreover, there’s a possibility of seeing Hammerhead sharks from January to April, and sometimes dolphins, Manta rays, Mobulas and Eagle rays make an appearance, too.