Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico July 2015

whalesharkcloseup How is this for a close-up?

We went swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres this past July, and it was an amazing experience.  Two days before I had swam with a dolphin at Xel-Ha, and it was a totally different experience.    Swimming with the 17-yr old male dolphin was great fun, but in a controlled environment.  We were in a penned lagoon with the dolphin’s trainer.  Swimming with the whale sharks was in open water about one hour off the coast, and though we did have a professional diver/guide accompany us, these gentle giants are not trained animals!  Not much is known about whale sharks…..they come to Isla Mujeres for only 3 months of the year, June through September, to feed off the plankton and krill.  They are solitary, even though there were lots in the area we were diving in.  So we jumped in, only two at a time with our guide, to swim alongside the shark.   Most were about 25-30 feet long–approximately the size of a school bus!  The whale sharks could care less about humans–they glide along very close to the surface,  keeping their giant mouths open to filter all the plankton.  They look like giant catfish, but make no mistake that they are sharks, as their dorsal fins cut through the blue water.  You can get so close to them that you can almost touch them, and you have to make sure to stay out of the way of their huge swishing tail.   A real sea safari experience I heartily recommend!