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Whale Shark Found A Long Way From Home
By Matt J. Weiss, February 3, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Abc.net.au
The discovery has puzzled scientists, who have not ruled out a link to climate change.

The lonesome whale shark comes from the world's biggest fish species, characterised by a wide flat mouth and covered in white stripes and spotted skin.

It is a highly migratory species, but to be seen off Stradbroke Island in Queensland's south is extraordinary.

Ken Holzheimer has been operating dive boats in the area for almost 40 years. Divers from his boat identified the rare, and usually warm water dwelling, sea creature earlier this week.

"You go to Ningaloo in Western Australia, that's where they are all the time and all of a sudden one turns up here," he said.

"I only heard about it when the divers came back to the boat, and I disputed the fact that it was there until they showed me their cameras with the photos on it.

"Then I had to believe them, didn't I?"

"There was no doubt about that. With the white spots, it was definitely a whale shark."

The veteran dive boat operator has never heard of a whale shark around Stradbroke Island.

He says the divers initially mistook it for a tiger shark. Mr Holzheimer says they saw its fins in the distance, and soon it swam closer and circled them, without showing any signs of distress.

"[It was quite a healthy specimen, and hung around with them within touching distance."

Mr Holzheimer says the whale shark hung around for 15 to 20 minutes of the dive before swimming away.

"It was just too much for [the divers]. They'll definitely be back...

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