Gentle giant of the oceans
What you need to know about the Whale Shark
The Whale Shark is the largest living fish in the ocean and can grow up to an astounding 50ft (16m) long! The species can be found in tropical and temperate waters all around the globe. As the Whale Shark is only one of three filter-feeding sharks in the ocean, its diet consists mainly of plankton, crustaceans, krill, and sometimes tiny fish. In Galápagos, Whale Sharks can be found consistently in the far north around Darwin Island and occasionally further south around the main islands.
This majestic giant arrives around June and July. They migrate during this time to coincide with the arrival and uplift of the Humboldt Current in the waters around Galápagos. This current travels from the south and moves northwards. It brings cold nutritious waters which flow along the South American shores. Scientists believe the Whale Shark navigates by following magnetic fields on the ocean floor.
One aspect of their behaviour that is still not fully understood is why they choose Galápagos at this time of year. Scientists currently think it may be associated with their breeding cycles, but very little is still understood about how these massive creatures reproduce. One thing that is known is that female Whale Sharks can host more than 300 eggs!
The Whale Shark has a “vulnerable and endangered” conservation status, mainly due to illegal fishing, bycatch and ship collisions. As a result, the trade of Whale Shark meat or products is prohibited. This is declared in a section of the list in Appendix II of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - known as CITES.
In Galápagos, Darwin Island’s dive sites offer a truly unique experience. A diving cruise to Galápagos gives you a unique chance to encounter these beautiful, gentle giants close up. Swimming in the Galápagos among these wonderful creatures is the highlight of a Galápagos diving cruise adventure.
Whale Shark: Interesting facts
The white spots on their back are unique to each individual, like a fingerprint
98% of Whale Shark sightings are of pregnant females
Whale Sharks find their way to Galápagos by following geo-magnetic "pathways" in the ocean
Whale Shark: Pictures from our travelers
Spots where the Whale Shark can be observed
Huge schools of hammers and Galápagos sharks, whale sharks, Mantas: Darwin's Towers (formerly: Darwin's Arch) is arguably one of the world's best diving sites.
Located just off the southeast tip of Darwin Island, the islet of Darwin's Towers (formerly known as Darwin's Arch, but the arch collapsed in 2021) is a fantastic marine wonderland. The main attractions are the whale sharks and hammerhead sharks that often gather here. But there are many other species you can find - green turtles, majestic manta rays, dolphins, large schools of fish, and other species of sharks are all frequent encounters.
We have met divers with over 1000 logged dives that still called it the single best diving site of their life! If you have any particular species that you are keen to see on your dive, contact one of our Galápagos experts today, and we can advise on the best dive itinerary to suit your requirements.
This is one of the only places in the whole Galápagos where night diving is allowed. Fondeadero means "anchoring site", and it's well names - this is the perfect place for a night dive as it's protected from the winds and currents. This makes it possible to enjoy night diving, and to witness a whole new side to Galápagos' undersea world.
Highlights to a night dive here include the chance of seeing the see glow gently with an eerie light, thanks to the bioluminescence of tiny plankton in the water when conditions are right. You've also got an excellent chance of being joined by Galápagos Fur Seals on your dives here.
Main Darwin Island
Darwin Island (originally named Culpepper Island) was renamed in honor of the famous naturalist. It is considered by many to be one of the best underwater habitats anywhere on earth.
Darwin is the most northerly island in the Galápagos, and is over 100 miles northwest of Isabela. Together with its neighbour Wolf Island, it is the most remote part of the archipelago.
Renowned for the large schools of hammerhead sharks that gather here (for reasons scientists still don't fully understand), Darwin and Wolf are tips of huge long-extinct undersea volcanoes that grew up over half a mile from the seafloor below.
You will enjoy spectacular diving here, and among the species you are likely to encounter are hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, rays, green turtles, and a myriad of tropical reef fish. If you have any particular species that you are keen to see on your dive, contact one of our Galápagos experts today and we can advise on the best dive itinerary to suit your requirements.
Shark Bay at Wolf Island is an underwater visitor point well known as being among THE best dive sites in Galápagos to see Hammerheads and Galápagos Sharks. Whale sharks have alse been encountered here, as well as a huge range of fish, rays, turtles, marine mammals and many more iconic Galápagos creatures.