Ending with a Hairy Story
Whale sharks were never seen feeding at Galapagos, which gives the following story* a whiff of a fairy tale.
‘As with any other animal on the Galápagos, and it should be a good practice anywhere in the world, touching whale sharks is strictly forbidden. This was not a well-observed custom some time ago, perhaps ten or twenty years back when, according to a local legend, one of the naturalist guides nicknamed Zorro Plateado, or Silver Fox, used to ride the whale sharks holding on to their dorsal fin. As if this was not enough, he supposedly dragged himself from the dorsal fin and then plunged headfirst over the animal’s upper lip into its gaping mouth. Disappearing into the poor whale shark’s maw, he was gushed out after a moment in a shroud of his bubbles, in slight disarray, but unharmed. The animal seemed to be unperturbed, it turned slowly and swam away. The diver’s equipment could have easily injured the whale shark, and I indeed believe that such acts would not be tolerated today.’
I was pleased to be contacted by the family of Zorro Plateado in reaction to this story. I welcome first-hand information rather than an unconfirmed narration by somebody else. Zorro declines the story featuring him and a whale shark as untrue. The truth is that he was honoured with a plaque from the Charles Darwin Foundation for his constant efforts in teaching the children the importance of conservation. He also plays an important part in CDF’s Shark Ambassador Program.
I hope I will have a chance to meet Zorro in person soon.
*A spoiler citation from Litt, Josef. GALÁPAGOS. Mostly Underwater Books. The United Kingdom, 2018.
A similar story was also mentioned in Bantin, John. Amazing Diving Stories. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2012.