Yearly tradition of whale shark sightings off Anna Maria Island continues

It's not every day you get to see something as spectacular as a whale shark in the open water. But it might be once a year.

Captain David White with Anna Maria Charters spotted a whale shark about 35 miles off the coast on Monday. 

Whale shark spotted off Anna Maria Island by David White in May 2022

RELATED: 'Shark lady' who founded Mote Marine remembered on postage stamp

The whale shark stayed right in front of their boat, in crystal blue water.

It’s not the first time that Captain White has spotted a massive whale shark in the area. Last year, nearly to the day, three whale sharks swam up to one of his boats in almost the exact same spot. 

‘I think he likes us’: 3 whale sharks surprise fishing captain, customers off Anna Maria Island

And the year before, Captain Josh from Siesta Kation Charters was greeted by a large whale shark about 12 miles offshore of Siesta Key. That’s about 50 miles north of Anna Maria Island.

MORE: Whale shark swims right next to boat off Siesta Key

In fact, whale sharks have been spotted near Tampa Bay between March and June for several years. 

In early June 2018, there were two sightings of a whale shark off Anna Maria Island. A few days later, vacationers spotted a large whale shark in the same area.

Five days later, boaters got an underwater look at a whale shark off St. Pete Beach.

Whale shark spotted off Anna Maria Island by David White in May 2022

One year and three days later, a FOX 13 viewer captured underwater video of a whale shark in the same spot.

And in June 2019, a fisherman saw a whale shark off Clearwater Beach.

It’s unclear whether the whale shark might be the same one, year after year, but the sightings are a sign whale sharks are able to thrive in the waters off Tampa Bay.