It was September 1996 that I finally had the opportunity to join Capt. Wayne Hasson onboard the M/V Okeanos Aggressor for an amazing dive experience to Cocos Island aka the “Island of the Sharks” located 350 miles offshore of Costa Rica.We met the night before the day of departure at the hotel bar in San Jose, Costa Rica. To say I was excited is an understatement, over a couple of beers he told me in typical WH fashion of his many previous trips to Cocos Island and of his encounters of swimming with schooling hammerheads, manta rays, hundreds of white tip sharks, giant schools of jacks, mobula rays, turtles, eels, silver tip sharks and then quietly told me that he knows where to find “Mr. BIG”. “Mr. BIG?” I asked. He smiled at me and he said “the Whale shark, my Whale shark.” With a grin on his face 😉
Not knowing if he was just telling WH stories or that we would actually see Mr. BIG kept me from sleeping that night and many more nights on the trip. We made the 36 hour journey to Cocos Island and I will never forget my first sight of the island, it was breathtaking. I dove every dive not wanting to miss anything especially seeing Mr. BIG. We saw everything; walls of Hammerheads, Silver tips, and White tip sharks, masses of fish and reef life but no Mr. BIG with Wayne reminding us all every day that he knew where Mr. BIG lived and he was going to take us there later on the trip. By this time most of us were beginning to wonder if WH was full of it or what?
The 2nd to last day we were all getting ready on the dive deck when WH announced we were at his special dive site, he was giving the dive briefing and told us he was going to take us all to meet Mr. BIG. Full of cheers and smiles off we went in search of Mr. BIG. It was a beautiful dive with clear visibility, no current, plenty of animal life everywhere, when all of a sudden out of the blue coming over the reef was WH casually swimming beside the largest Whale shark I have ever seen. Wayne’s arms and hands were pumping in the air with him gesturing that it was his whale shark! Wayne’s whale shark slowly swam in figure eights around the group for at least 20 minutes allowing everyone the chance of a photo opportunity or to swim alongside Mr. Big before he slid away into the deep blue.
You can only imagine the commotion and jubilation of everyone onboard for the remaining part of the trip and Waynes big smile!
Jump forward 23 years later 2019
I travelled with my daughter Emily to dive the “ Island of the Sharks”. On our journey out to Cocos Island I told her Wayne’s “Mr. BIG” story; I’m not sure she believed me totally. However, she sure did when the only Whale shark we saw on the trip was at Wayne’s special divesite.
“Wayne Hasson, Thank you for the memories I believed them all.”
By Captain Alan Roberts, Roatan Aggressor