Explore Oman’s clear underwater and the wondrous marine life, as the whale shark season gets underway
With the gradual onset of winter coinciding with the ongoing Whale Shark Expedition, organised by SeaOman, the focus of water sport lovers is bound to shift to diving and all things underwater. The presence of Pierre Frolla, freediving world record holder and renowned environmental educator, is expected to heighten this interest.
While Oman’s 1700km pristine coastline has its own attractions, it is the wealth of underwater life that is beckoning serious and responsible travellers. Oman’s waters are home to a host of marine life, including Sting, Eagle and Torpedo Rays, some species of reef sharks, a variety of Moray eels, Green and Hawksbill turtles, Spiny lobster, Snake eels, Nudibranchs, Squid and Cuttlefish, Porcupine, Lion and Scorpion fish. It also fosters a healthy growth of corals and boasts a variety of regular reef and schooling fish, like Batfish, Parrot fish, Angel fish, Trevalli, Snapper and Barracuda.
Tourists from the region and around the world are known to visit Oman during this season to experience a memorable diving holiday, as Muscat and Salalah present diverse diving conditions for those seeking adventure. In fact, off the coast of Muscat alone there are over 40 dive sites, including the picturesque Daymaniyat Islands, Bandar Khairan and Fahal Islands. They feature deep drop offs and coral flanked walls that add to the colourful visuals of reef fish.
These sites are accessible from Muscat and most are easily approachable by divers of different experience levels. In fact, what makes these spots convenient for even amateur divers is that there are few currents and dives range in depth from ten to thirty metres, along coral flanked stony walls.
Seasoned divers and even amateurs, who have booked a diving session with Pierre Frolla can expect to encounter whale sharks as a part of SeaOman’s whale shark expeditions. Although they look intimidating, whale Sharks are the gentlest giants and classified as the most vulnerable marine animals in the world. During his visit, from September 29th to October 7th, Pierre is leading six days of ocean expeditions with members of the public. These expeditions aim to offer the ultimate encounter with whale sharks, as they make their annual journey along the Omani coast.
Talking on the sidelines of the expeditions, Pierre said, “Whale sharks are magnificent creatures, a true wonder of the submarine world. I believe the wonderful underwater conditions that the Sultanate can offer will provide the perfect conditions to observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat – a very rare and special opportunity!”
The whale shark season in Oman runs from September to November (while the diving season continues up to May) and is a highlight of the country’s diving calendar. Pods of the giant whale sharks – usually consisting of 10 to 15 individuals – can be found as they make their way towards the Daymaniyat Islands, a nature reserve 16 miles off the coast of Oman, northwest of Muscat. On any given day in the season there is an average 90 percent chance of encountering the creatures.
43-year old Pierre, who hails from Monaco, promises an experience of a lifetime through the expeditions, which is open to all participants aged 8 and above. Since his retirement from competitive diving, he has subsequently become involved in numerous educational, environmental and charitable projects. Pierre is also a Champion for Peace ambassador within the Monaco-based Peace and Sport organisation, which uses sport as a unifying force in crisis areas around the world.