Have you seen Finding Dory yet? I haven't. I will when I'm on vacation. Did you know Dory speaks whale? She has a friend, Destiny, who is a whale shark. Guess what? Last week I swam with whale sharks!
Its a shore excursion offered by the ship in Cozumel. It's a long day, it's not cheap and it's only offered from May to September. Here is some of the information they gave me...
Join us for a once in a lifetime experience as you snorkel with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. These 30ft long creatures will leave you breathless! The warm waters of the Caribbean Sea are where whale sharks have been congregating in the largest numbers anywhere on the planet. These docile giants, who migrate to the area around mid May to mid September, can reach up to 40ft in length and feature huge box like mouths with which to trap plankton and marine life.
We were first off the ship at 830am, and took the ferry from Cozumel across to Playa del Carmen - about 45 minutes. Then another 45 minutes in a small bus - there were 12 of us plus a guide and a driver - to Cancun. Then finally about an hour in a small boat out into the ocean past Isla Mujeres to find the whale sharks.
That's another tour boat. Between the tour boat and us you can see a pod of whale sharks. Yes, you can. Look closer. See where the water is breaking? There are whale sharks under there.
I didn't take all that many photos despite the fancy underwater case for my fancy camera. I was too busy being breathless at the sight of the whale sharks. Breathless while in the ocean is not good. Must remember to breathe. Before we got in the water we were told not to swim in front of the whale sharks. Their eyes are on the side of their heads so swim beside them where they can see us. Their tails are huge and powerful, it's what moves them through the water, so don't get in the way of their tails. Basically swim beside them at all times. That is harder than it sounds. I was above, behind and in front. Almost anywhere but beside them!
We were also told not to wear sunscreen, perfume, make up etc because the chemicals are bad for the whale sharks. I rented a wet suit to keep my bright white, prone to sunburn skin safe and sound. It also helped me float. Bonus.
It's hard to tell from my photos how big they were, but take it from me they were huge. And graceful. And slow. And magnificent.
I was a little disappointed into things. One - the amount of time we spent in the water with them compared with how much time we spent getting there and back. I felt rushed in the water. The guide kept yelling, swim here, swim there, come here, stay here, go there. I wanted to just float where I was and watch and enjoy. Two - how few photos I took.
But it was an awesome day. And well worth it. If I had the opportunity to go again, I would. But not from the ship. If I was staying in Cancun and didn't have to keep to a schedule to not miss the ship. I'd stay out there with the whale sharks for two or three hours. Also keep in mind sightings are not guaranteed. These are wild animals in a natural environment. They don't show up on schedule. And as yet the tour operators are not feeding the whale sharks to guarantee their presence.