From January to late March, visitors to Cancun and Isla Mujeres have a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with migrating schools of sailfish in the blue waters to the east of Contoy Island. This unforgettable eco trip also gives you the chance to spot dolphins, sea turtles and a variety of seabirds.
A school of Sailfish hunting - Photo by Alberto Friscione
The Fastest Fish on Record
From January to June, sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) gather in the northern Mexican Caribbean in large numbers. They are hunting huge migrating schools of sardines, anchovies, mackerel and jacks that are also attracted by the abundant food supply in these tropical waters.
Sailfish are the fastest fish on record, reaching speeds of over 68 miles an hour (110 kilometers per hour) when hunting and to see them pursuing their prey is incredible. When they find a school of smaller fish, sailfish circle and gradually close in, unfurling their impressive dorsal fins or sails and using them to trap their prey. Thinking there is safety in numbers, the panicky fish stay together forming a bait ball of flashing silver scales designed to confuse enemies. Undeterred, the sailfish attack from every side, tearing the bait ball apart and picking fish off one by one using their bill like a rapier to spear and slash in an elegant underwater “ballet.”
Sailfish Change Color when Hunting and Show their Stripes
Sailfish change color when they are hunting; their gray or blue skin glimmers and pulses with stripes as they move through the water, Scientists believe that the color change is designed to disorientate their prey and acts as a warning to other sailfish to keep their distance, thus avoiding collisions.
An Unforgettable Eco Trip
Set sail with Thomas More Travel for an eco cruise to swim and snorkel with the sailfish, one of Nature’s wonders. You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide at all times and will watch from a distance in the water as the sailfish hunt their prey. During the boat ride you’ll also spot frigate birds, pelicans, flying fish and may be lucky enough to spot turtles and dolphins, a thrill in itself.
Watching Sailfish hunt, a unique experience! - Photo by Alberto Friscione
The Snorkeling withSailfish trip is only available from January to March before the onset of the fishing season. You can book online at www.thomasmoretravel.com or if you are staying at the Royal Resorts in Cancun or Playa del Carmen call in at the tour desk in the lobby.
Waters Teeming with Life
The sailfish hunting grounds lie to the northeast of Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Cabo Catoche in an area of the sea that is rich in plankton and other marine life due to the convergence of ocean currents swirling in from the Gulf of Mexico and upwellings of colder waters from the depths. Indeed, this oceanic highway is always busy, attracting other migrants during the year such as manta rays, tuna and the biggest of them all, the whale shark. The world’s largest living fish, this gentle giant gathers in the clear, warm waters from mid-May to mid-September to feed on plankton and fish roe. Thomas More Travel also offers eco trips toswim with the whale shark during the summer.