WHALE shark sightings have been sending people into a frenzy, as these gentle giants of the sea frolic and "play" in the Coral Sea.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean but they are harmless, docile creatures that filter-feed on tiny plankton.

They also sieve squid, krill and small fish.

Red Cat Adventures took a video of these whale sharks.
Red Cat Adventures took a video of these whale sharks.

Red Cat Adventures owner Asher Telford rang the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to ask about guidelines with these creatures, following the experience.

"They were very excited when we told them we had been swimming with the whale sharks," he said.

 

PLEASE CREDIT TO: Shane Batham Into The Blue Gallery. Red Cat Adventures was awarded gold in both the adventure tourism and major tour and transport operators categories at the Queensland Tourism Awards.
WINNERS: Red Cat Adventures was awarded gold in both the adventure tourism and major tour and transport operators categories at the Queensland Tourism Awards. Shane Batham

Assistant director of reef stewardship at GBRMPA, Fiona Merida, said whale sharks had been sighted in the Whitsundays before, around the same time of year.

"We tend to see them in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park every year, at about this time," she said.

"But in the Whitsundays, the last time we had sightings of whale sharks was about nine years ago and again about five years ago, but the sightings are exactly the same period of time, almost to the day."

VIDEO: A brush with graceful giants in Mexico: Whale sharks frequent the waters off Isla Mujeres in Mexico between May and September but are most prolific in July and August.
VIDEO: A brush with graceful giants in Mexico: Whale sharks frequent the waters off Isla Mujeres in Mexico between May and September but are most prolific in July and August.

Ms Merida, who is a marine biologist, said the sightings aligned with the annual coral spawning, when tiny eggs and sperm were released by the coral into the water.

"The time of year that we have seen whale sharks aligns with when the mass coral spawning occurs, and we have just had that happen," she said.

"There's a lot of stuff in the water at that time - the egg bundles from the coral bring the plankton, and the whale sharks eat the plankton, and also the spawn on the surface of the water."

Coral spawning is an important part of the regeneration of the reef and the synchronicity occurs according to very specific lunar cycles, to ensure the male and female eggs can meet.

This year's spawning happened on the weekend of November 16 and 17.