Swimming with giants in Madagascar

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“Préparez-vous! Préparez-vous!” our captain shouts. Then “Allez! Allez! A droite!” Flippers on, masks down and snorkels up, we slide rapidly into the water from the rear of the boat. For a few seconds we can see nothing but bubbles. When they clear, we spot a huge whale shark swimming straight towards us – flat-headed with a yard-wide mouth. We paddle back to avoid him, but the enormous creature takes no notice. He glides past us – all 18 sleek feet of him. We turn and follow.

The next few minutes are sublime, thrilling, unforgettable. The whale shark swims serenely on through clear blue water lanced by refracted sun beams. We are so close we can see his small black eyes and the hole just behind…

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