Deep sea adventure turns into rare encounter for divers off Kona

Photo courtesy: Keller Laros.
Photo courtesy: Keller Laros.

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A group of divers enjoying a deep sea adventure off Kona on Thursday got the surprise of a lifetime — a chance encounter with one of the ocean’s largest creatures.

Master diver Keller Laros was leading a dive tour at a site called Pawai Bay Thursday morning, anticipating the group would see beautiful reef fish in the crystal clear Kona waters.

They got far more than they bargained for.

“We tied up to one of the moorings, we went in, saw beautiful fish, swam under beautiful arch we came out to the edge of the drop off here came this enormous whale shark,” Laros said.

Laros says the female whale shark glided majestically past the divers, unaware of the excitement she was causing.

“It’s extremely rare to see a whale shark in Hawaii. I’ve got over 10,200 dives that I’ve logged and this is only about the 20th time I’ve seen a whale shark,” Laros said. “Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. They say they go to over 40 feet, but this one was probably more in the 20 to 30 foot range.”

Whale sharks feed on plankton and other microscopic creatures in the ocean like krill and copepods.

Laros says unlike humpbacks, whale sharks are tropical creatures that like warm waters and often travel alone.

“Some parts of the world they do congregate for mating and reproduction and things, but here in Hawaii if you seen one, it’s kind of just a stroke a luck because they don’t particularly hang out in any one area,” Laros said.

In January, Laros rescued a dolphin caught in fishing line in waters off Kona. The video clip of the connection between diver and dolphin went viral and has been seen by millions.

This encounter provided him with great satisfaction as well.

“The ocean is always a gift and every time I go out it’s magic and today just happened to be one of the largest strokes of magic I’ve had in a long time. A whale shark… what a great day,” Laros said.

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