Photographer explains stunning and unique whale shark image

A magnificent and unique split-level image showing a colossal whale shark just beneath a small yacht is being passed around on Facebook, with some users expressing skepticism about its authenticity. That’s mainly because there was little or no detail about the image, but Shawn Heinrichs, who captured the image last week at Isla Mujeres in Mexico, assures that it’s genuine.Heinrichs, veteran scuba diver, photographer and cinematographer, also provided details about his magical adventure with docile and mysterious whale sharks, which are the world’s largest fish.

“This is the site of the world’s largest whale shark aggregations,” he said, via Facebook message. “Hundreds have been recorded in [this] single location.

“The water was calm that day and the whale shark encounters were off the charts. I saw the sharks passing close to our boat so I swam back and waited. To get a shot like this requires a lot of technical know-how and experience because focusing on an object above and below the water at the same time is challenging.

“Also, getting the horizon line level and water off the lens is an exercise in patience and determination. Go for it and see what comes up.”

A sampling of comments on Heinrich’s Facebook page:

— “Where’s the ‘love’ button”

— “Perfect is the word… Well done buddy”

— “No way, is that for real?”

Whale sharks inhabit tropical and sub-tropical seas around the world (except the Mediterranean). They’re pelagic filter-feeders and generally subsist on plankton and small, schooling fish. They can measure up to about 40 feet and, because of their docile nature and incredible size, they’re extremely popular among scuba divers and snorkelers.

Whale sharks are listed as “Vulnerable” with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

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