• Apr

    A Once In a Lifetime Tour: Swim With the Whale Shark


    On one of my last trips to Mexico I met a young couple in front of Buey Cup in La Paz. We became fast friends and had a lot of fun talking about our travels. During our conversation I found out that they had just bought a house across the street with a lovely palapa above. I was never able to see the place but I always admired the view they must have.

    Another time I went back to the same cafe and met them again. They were telling me about the Whale Shark tour, which I’d never heard of before.I said: “That sounds interesting; I’d like to go sometime.” That’s when they told me that if I wanted to go I had to decide on the spot because one of my friends was on the phone with a tour company making reservations. I accepted and the next morning I went to meet my friends for the tour.

    Before I write any more about our adventures, here’s a bit of info on the Whale Shark: This is a slow-moving fish and from what I’ve heard, the largest fish in the world. According to Wikipedia, the largest confirmed Whale Shark was 12.65 meters (or 41.5 feet long). You’ll find the Whale Shark in tropical and warm oceans. It’s life span is approximately 70 years. As for food, they usually eat plankton but sometimes small fish and the eggs of spawning fish.

    According to the guides, when the fish is feeding it moves in a semi-hypnotic state and moves around rather slowly and if the movement is slow enough, you can actually swim with it, assuming you have mask, snorkel and flippers. Out on the open ocean, I couldn’t catch up with the one that we saw, but I had plenty of opportunity in the boat at one point.

    We had a skilled captain who was able to bring the boat alongside the Whale Shark, so close that I could have easily touched its head off the right side of the boat.

    Swimming with the Whale Shark was an amazing and humbling experience. The shark we saw was as big as the boat we were sitting in and its mouth was huge. It resembled an attachment for a vacuum cleaner and was easily three feet across. Being in the water with this fish was truly amazing and watching it swim from only a couple of feet away was not a sight I’ll easily forget.

    I’m told this type of tour only exists in a few locations around the world, so if this is something you’re interested in, I highly recommend it. The cost was $450 pesos for the tour (roughly $40 dollars) and worth every penny.

    Here’s some footage of the Whale Shark below:

    Credits Tanya Manfrediz

    © Nathan Segal

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