Swimming with the Whale Sharks

As many of you know, I joined Destination:PEACE in August on Isla Mujeres to work with the organization PEACE.  However, I arrived on the island a few days before my volunteering began and today I am spotlighting one of the amazing things that I did while on the island – swimming with the whale sharks.

juvenile whale shark

Two friends and I took a 45 minute boat ride out into the middle of the Caribbean through choppy waters and a torrential down pour to discover other boats watching something that looked like this.

whale shark migration

Before common sense got the better of me, I was jumping overboard and being drug through the water by a Mexican man who was trying to help me get a better view of these beautiful, gentle giants.  As we approached and were trying to stay the recommended distance away, the shark turned in our direction and I got a view that was similar to this.

whale shark feeding on plankton

This is an amazing thing to experience in their natural environment.   The whale shark inhabits all tropical and warm-temperate seas. They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia.  Their migratory pattern brings them off the coast of Isla Mujeres every late June – early September.

The whale shark is the biggest fish in the World. It is NOT a whale. It has a huge mouth which can be up to 4 feet (1.4 m) wide. Its mouth is at the very front of its head (not on the underside of the head like in most sharks). They have measured up to lengths greater than 40 ft.  It is an experience I won’t soon forget.  If you are ever off the coast of Isla Mujeres between June and September it is certainly something you should experience.

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