For any diver fired up by the idea of regular whale shark encounters before 2023 is out, four places have become available on annual Whale Shark Science Weeks run by the Madagascar Whale Shark Project Foundation (MWSPF). One will involve snorkelling with Rhincodon typus, while the other three are aimed at freedivers.
The snorkelling trip runs for a week from 11 November, with a small group of guests taking part in a series of dedicated research sorties accompanied by Stella Diamant, who founded the project in 2016. The location is the Tanikely Marine Reserve around the Madagascan island of Nosy Be.
You’ll swim with the whale sharks from a private boat over five days, participating in the data-collection process and learning more about the animals and their conservation from experts. Accommodation is in a shared villa with half-board, and airport transfers are included. The price is 1,700 euros (£1,462).
The Freediving X Science programme, for up to eight divers, runs the previous week (4-11 November) in partnership with local school Freedive Nosy Be. It is intended for existing freedivers who wish to improve their skills, whether in terms of depth and exploration, while at the same time taking part in a scientific programme.
Each day’s freediving session, which can be used towards achieving SSI certification if required, is followed by a swim with the whale sharks and, again, the opportunity to assist with data-collection.
You get six days at sea, presentations, training and seven nights’ B&B in a private room and airport transfers for 1,200 euros (£1,032).
Return flights from the UK are additional and, with one stop (Nairobi), should start at around £700 (Skyscanner). Find out about these whale shark packages at the MWSPF site.