Come face to face with the fastest fish in the sea this season. If you love the sea a once-in-a lifetime ocean adventure awaits you in January and February, the chance to snorkel with hunting sailfish as they move through the Mexican Caribbean.
Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) migrate through area waters in large numbers from January to June following schools of sardines, anchovies, mackerel and jacks. Their pursuit of prey is incredible to watch and they can reach speeds of over 68 miles an hour (110 kilometers per hour) when hunting.
When sailfish detect a school of smaller fish, they circle and gradually close in, unfurling their impressive dorsal fins or sails and using them to trap their prey. The frightened fish stay together forming a swirling silvery bait ball designed to confuse enemies. Undeterred, the sailfish dart in from every side, tearing the bait ball apart and picking the fish off one by one using their rapier-like bill to spear and slash in a graceful underwater “ballet.”
Sailfish change color when they are hunting; their gray or blue skin pulses with iridescent stripes as they move through the water, Scientists believe that the color change is designed to disorientate their prey and warn other sailfish to keep their distance, thus avoiding collisions.
Set sail with Thomas More Travel for an unforgettable voyage to the east of Contoy and Isla Mujeres to snorkel with the sailfish. Be on the look out for the flocks of frigate birds that follow the migrating fish, a sign that the sailfish are near. You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide and will watch from a safe distance as the sailfish hunt their prey. During the boat ride, you may also spot sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, schools of bonitos, wahoos and there has been the occasional sighting of false killer whales.
The Sailfish trip is only available in January, February and early March, before the start of the fishing season. You must be fit and a good swimmer to take the tour. Pregnant women, minors under the age of 15 and non-swimmers are not permitted.
The Mexican Caribbean offers underwater wonders year-round and incredible dive sites along the second longest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef.
Schools of spotted eagle rays migrate to the reefs of Cozumel between December and February. Marlin and sailfish hunt in area waters from December in the spring and early summer.
From mid-May to mid-September, it is whale shark season and time for an unforgettable encounter with the world’s largest fish. Whale sharks gather during the summer to feast on plankton blooms and during a boat trip out to their feeding grounds off Holbox and to the east of Contoy and Isla Mujeres you may also catch a glimpse of graceful manta rays that are also partial to plankton. And while you can spot sea turtles swimming near area reefs year-round, the females come ashore to lay their eggs during the summer and you may spot the tiny hatchlings on their madcap dash into the waves to begin life at sea.
In late fall, schools of golden or cownose rays, sometimes in their thousands, migrate south from Florida across the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and are often seen near the island of Holbox.
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