Whale watchers stunned over rare find
WHALE watchers were treated to an incredibly rare sight when a whale shark pup made an appearance just off Surfers Paradise yesterday.
Passengers on Sea World Cruises boat Spirit of Migaloo II were nearing the end of the tour when a 3.5m shark was spotted about midday.
A Sea World spokesman said the boat was stopped watching a humpback mother and her calf when the young whale shark came up alongside the boat.
The young whale shark passed the vessel twice.
The pup's age is unknown as young whale sharks and their mothers part at birth.
Whale shark sightings are uncommon on the east coast of Australia.
The spokesman said the last reported sighting of a whale shark in Queensland was off the Gold Coast in March this year.
The massive animals, which grow to be between 5.5m and 10m in length, are more common in Western Australia where they a known to migrate to Ningaloo Reef.
The species is considered endangered due to the impacts of fisheries, bycatch losses and vessel strikes.
It is not known how many whale sharks remain.
The carnivores, who pose not threat to humans, are known to be slow moving and can weigh up to 20.6 tons.
Whale sharks live to about 70 years of age.