It turns out whalesharks are BIG. I mean intellectually I know they are the biggest fish in the sea, but when you get really close up – they are BIG. And in Isla Mujeres in Mexico at this time of the year, there are LOTs. We were fortunate enough to find ourselves on the wetpixel whale sharks trip lead by Alex Mustard at the end of last month. Wow. On the first day the captain estimated around 300-400 sharks. It certainly felt like it. Every time I turn around another one had snuck up on me, it was amazing. And as a diver who’s pathologically afraid of snorkelling (I know I know go ahead and laugh) a massive fish sneaking up on you when you’re already feeling completely sea sick (forgot to make my pills until we were underway that first day, I was ok the rest of the trip) should scare the crap out of you – but no, they didn’t. They were just wonderful. Much less scary than mantas. I felt very peaceful. Here are my photos (which dont do them justice unfortunately) so maybe you can enjoy them from the comfort of you’re armchair :) And by the end of the week I was no longer afraid of snorkelling either – I didnt drown – yay me!
As you can see from the photos they swim along with their mouths open to hoover up all the tuna eggs suspended in the water. The eggs tend to float which is why they feed at the surface. When they feel comfortable sometime the “bottle feed”, which is where they just up end and stay static in once place feeding at the surface as below:
Quite often there were so many they caused a traffic jam & had to swim under each other:
It was nice to get out there early before all the hordes of boats came along:
We didnt just see whalesharks though. Sometimes the remora (small fish that hitch a ride with larger fish by hooking on) came to check us out, after finding us lacking in interest they would swim back to their whalesharks. And a couple of times we saw some mobula rays fly past.
If you want to see more of my whaleshark pics they were in this gallery here (along with the Cenote photos but I’ll be featuring them in some posts here soon anyway).