Visitors to Mafia Island are enjoying a fantastic whale shark season with daily sightings of multiple whale sharks offering excellent snorkeling excursions with these amazing creatures. The whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are feeding close inshore near Kilindoni, the island’s main town in the months September to March each year.
A managed visitor program permits only licensed boat operators and controls visitor behavior to ensure no physical contact with the sharks. The whale shark is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of over 18 m.
There have also been two out-of-season Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) with over 60 eggs hatching in each nest, an added bonus for those tourists present. the main season for the hatchings is July-September each year when over 100 nests are carefully opened and individuals protected into the sea.
Mafia Island is part of Tanzania’s Mafia Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Large swaths of the island’s southern coastline and surrounding waters are protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. Within the park are many coral reefs, home to wildlife such as whale sharks and sea turtles. In the south, beaches include secluded Ras Kisimani, just across from Bwejuu Island. Popular Utende Beach edges onto Chole Bay.