If you are traveling to Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Holbox or the Riviera Maya this summer, you have the chance to see the gentle giants of the ocean, the whale sharks. This is an incredible wildlife encounter with the world’s largest fish, a Mexican Caribbean summer trip highlight.
From mid-May to mid-September, hundreds of whale sharks migrate to the northern waters of the Mexican Caribbean near the islands of Holbox, Contoy and Isla Mujeres to feed on plankton blooms caused by high temperatures, and eggs laid by spawning little tunny fish. Biologists say it is the largest whale shark gathering in the world.
Whale sharks are great ocean wanderers, migrating thousands of miles through the tropics during the year in search of feeding grounds with rich pickings of plankton and fish roe.
Fishermen in the Mexican Caribbean call whale sharks pez domino or domino fish in reference to their distinctive markings of stripes and spots. No whale shark is alike, they each have a unique pattern and taking photos of them is helping marine biologists around the world to compile a catalog. Through the use of this international database for identification purposes and tagging sharks they can start to map the movements of these enigmatic creatures during the year.
Imagine watching as a creature the size of a bus approaches out of the crystal-clear depths and then swims placidly by, its gaping jaws open to scoop up the minute plankton and filter the water through its gills. Suddenly wherever you look you see fins as the whale sharks eat their fill before diving deep. It is an awe-inspiring sight and one that wildlife watchers shouldn’t miss.
On the boat journey out to the whale shark area, there’s the added thrill of spotting wild dolphins and sea turtles. Huge manta rays also gather to eat plankton alongside the whale sharks and sometimes breach the water surface in spectacular flight.
Book your summer whale shark trip
Guided eco trips to the whale shark feeding grounds are available for small groups through Thomas More Travel. Book online at www.thomasmoretravel.com or at the tour desk during your stay.
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