Saturday, November 23, 2019

Whale Sharks!

Swimming with a whale shark has been on my bucket list ever since I knew it was a possibility. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea, they can grow as large as 30 feet long. They are filter feeders and are very gentle. In La Paz, Mexico there are resident juvenile whale sharks that stay around for a few years. They are not as large as the full grown adults, but they are still quite impressive.




The sharks are close to La Paz, in a protected area. Only designated boats are allowed in the area so taking either Rhapsody or our dinghy was not an option.




We chose a small tour group to take us out. VIP tours in La Paz limits their group to six people and rotates two in the water at a time to give the best experience both for the swimmers and the shark.



The first image we had of the fish was just a shadow near the surface.
The water was quite shallow, sometimes as little as 5 feet, quite amazing when you consider the size of these creatures.



Each group had three opportunities to swim with the shark. Our shark was approximately 14 - 16 feet and allowed us to swim along side, seemingly undisturbed.




The coloring was remarkable. Watching the light play across its back, realizing how its spots and speckles worked in concert with the sunlight to help camouflage the fish. The underside is a lighter color so that when viewed from below it blends in better with the sky. 

The tail swished side to side. This is an indication that it is a fish, that, and the gills on the side of its head. The tails of aquatic mammals, such as dolphins, go up and down providing different propulsion.



We were cautioned not to touch the shark, but we were able to get quite close. It swam very lazily, allowing us to swim along. We stayed along and behind, because there was the possibility that if we swam in front we would be perceived as a threat and the whale shark would dive.



We swam with the whale shark for a few hours, and then it was time to return to the marina. 



I feel very lucky that we had the chance  to do this and that the whale shark tolerated our presence. I look forward to having  a chance to do this again as we hear that there are opportunities to swim with the mature whale sharks in the South Pacific. I should have realized that I would not be able to to cross this off my bucket list in just one try!

We love to hear your comments.