In 2014 over 3 million tourists flocked to Cancun and the Riviera Maya in search of sun, fun and a beautiful vacation. What you may not know, is that some of these tourists were NOT human.
Over 500 of those visitors were the mind-blowingly impressive whale sharks. Read on to learn about these gentle giants and how you can catch a rare sighting and spend some quality time with these magnificent creatures.
What is a Whale Shark?
Measuring up to 40 feet in length and weighing as much as 11 tons, these sharks are the largest living fish in the oceans, and they have spotted skins that locals call “dominoes.” The creatures typically feed at the surface on calm sunny days, suctioning great volumes of phytoplankton.
Why Do They Come?
The coast of Quintana Roo, where the Gulf of Mexico converges with the Caribbean Sea, reportedly has the world’s highest concentration of whale sharks. They come to feed and to mate, and as many as 600 come here between May and September (RIGHT NOW) —and particularly during the hottest Summer months when currents sweep plankton into the shallow waters around the Yucatán Peninsula.
How Are They Protected?
They are currently listed as a vulnerable species. Tour operators and guides must adhere to strict regulations for approaching the creatures and to prevent crowding at feeding and mating sites.
Is Swimming with Whale Sharks Safe?
Fortunately, whale sharks are known as Filter Feeders, and their diet is mainly plankton and small species of plants and fish they take in through their massive jaws. Humans are currently not on their menu.
As long as you keep your distance so as not to scare them off, your time with them should be nothing short of life-changing.
How Can I See Them and Swim with Them?
In this tour, you’ll go out to the area between Isla Contoy and Holbox Island, and in groups of two, get in two or three swims with the whale sharks. Groups are kept very small to protect these animals, so it’s important to reserve early to secure your spot.
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