Whale Sharks & Night Dive

8

May 14, 2014 by kimberlyfenton

Every year the Whale Sharks migrate to feed in the waters just a few miles from Isla Mujeres. They arrive mid-May and stay until September, and ever since we arrived in October last year it has been top of our list. Wow, what an experience worth waiting for. The Whale Sharks are the largest known fish species, and you can see in the picture how humans compare to the size of them. 

The day was so special, one which I will never forget! It really was a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t put into words how we felt in the water. Rosie and I managed to shoot some pretty amazing footage, which I have been watching and reliving almost every day.

 
Sighting before jumping inMouth open, feeding

We left from Puerto Juarez (close to our home,) and were treated to an incredible breakfast and made our own baguettes for later on in the day. It took about an hour at sea before we saw all the other boats in one big circle; we had found them. There were around 20 boats, but the whale sharks were everywhere, in every direction we could see their fins it was incredible! I didn’t expect to see so many! We probably saw around 20-30 but they are known to swim in big groups, accompanied by big mantarrays below, so we were told to keep an eye out for them! We saw 2 in the end, great big things, yet so elegant in the water.

First face to face encounterClose and personalThe Whale SharkIncredible

Although in the footage it looks like the whale sharks are swimming pretty slow, as soon as we jumped into the water we had to swim as hard as we could in order to keep up with them. Adrenaline just completely took over, it was such a rush! Jumping in for the first time, the whale shark made an unexpected turn and its face was right in front of us, and I had know idea what to do, or which way to swim in order to get out of its way! This first shark that we saw was the biggest and it was so fast- really hard to keep up! Eventually we lost it, turned around, and enjoyed swimming next to another one. There were 8 of us on the boat and we took it in turns to jump in in pairs. However, even from the boat the experience was spectacular, with a couple of whale sharks swimming along right beside us, and coming towards us with their mouths open. Such an incredible experience!
Our second time in the water was definitely the best, and the guide said it was the best of the day. After swimming by one Whale Shark, we were suddenly treated to two swimming side by side, and then we turned arounBeautiful!d and there was another, then another two swimming in front of us, and another behind us! We were completely surrounded, and we can now truly say that we have been in shark-infested waters. I wish I could put into words the incredible feeling, it was overwhelming and the adrenaline that kicked in is indescribable. Unforgettable. Inolvidable. We were surrounded by 7 of them with more swimming our way, this was the highlight for me, suddenly two of them were in front of us, face to face with us…. an arms distance away! All I could do was let out a scream of excitement, which was caught on Rosie’s video, as we entered into a face-off with them, before they moved and swam away. Ahh reliving it through words is sending shivers down my back. An experience I will never forget!


Definitely check out the videos  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yso5UUzoBi0

Playa NortePlaya Norte
After the excitement of the Whale Sharks we then made our way back to Cancun, spotting a group of dolphins on the way! The first time I have seen them in the wild in Cancun! We then stopped for some drinks and lunch at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres. My favourite beach, and it was beautiful! All the boats who had just been with the Whale Sharks had all stopped in the same place, and our Captain was boat hopping on the search for free beers.
Sunsetting over CancunSunset
SunsetSunset
The next day after all that excitement it was finally time for our Night Dive to complete our Advanced Open Water Course! The sunset over Cancun as we were leaving the marina was stunning, so beautiful, and I had to pinch myself as I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have this opportunity to live here for a year. Again, we went with our first scuba instructors Maira and Damian, and we headed out to Mancheros reef where there are a couple of statues from MUSA- the Underwater Museum, which was amazing to see at night time with the impressive shadows created with our torches.

Turtle!TurtleReady to JumpGoing in

The reef was beautiful and it was cool to see them come to life at night, I also saw my first puffer fish, which is identical to that of “shark bait hoo-ha-ha” from Finding Nemo… they did well! We then saw a turtle, and then another huge turtle which actually swam towards us and Damian and Rosie managed to get some great shots of the turtle which looks like it is in space, against the black backdrop. I loved when we turned off our torches and moved our hands quickly to see the green fluorescent life shining like the stars of the sea. 

We were at 10 metres and so we spent an hour appreciating the reef, I also saw my first octopus which was cool! It was red, which I didn’t expect… no sharks out for us tonight though! I was half expecting/hoping one would suddenly appear in my light, but no. Another great dive, and we are now Advanced Open Water Divers!

Last dive for our Advanced courseRosie, Damian and IMyself and the OceanosDiving.com TshirtYeaaaah!

9 months on, and I am still finding and enjoying all the new experiences this amazing place has to offer and appreciating every minute of my time here.


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8 thoughts on “Whale Sharks & Night Dive

  1. panterawrr says:

    That sounds insanely amazing! Swimming and diving with whale sharks is one of the things at the top of my bucketlist and I’m hoping to do it either in The Philippines or Thailand. There are whale sharks off the coast of Western Australia but there are also great whites there so I’m a bit wary of heading that way. And you’re so lucky to have swum with turtles. I am yet to dive with one in the ocean although I did a shark dive at an aquarium and one of the large turles came up to us and was nose to nose with another girl in the training tank. I was so jealous considering it was my birthday and would have kissed it haha!

    • Haha turtles are my favourite, in Central America and Mexico I was lucky enough to come across them almost every dive! If you ever make it to Mexico, be sure to check out Akumal – which means “Land of the Turtles” in Mayan – as it is a Centro Ecologico where they protect the turtles, and in one snorkel I saw 9! Beautiful place 🙂

  2. PT says:

    too jealous for words – it’s on my bucket list to dive with these beautiful creatures! http://www.pinktankscuba.com

  3. I’m heading out to Mexico next week and trying to see some whale sharks is top of my list. Did this happen last week? I guess this is a good sign for me that the season has started 🙂 do you have any other tips, reputable tour guides/prices etc? Any info would be really appreciated

    • Hey yep the whale shark season runs from mid May to mid September in Quintana Roo Mexico! There are two places where I’d recommend. I personally went from Cancun, but you can also go on daily trips from Isla Mujeres and it is about an hour/hour and a half trip by boat to find the big group of them..

      Another option, 3 hours north of Cancun is taking a ferry to Isla Holbox, where the sharks are actually located- a little island which lives off the whale shark tourism, and it is actually shaped like the shark too which is crazy! I’ve been there myself and it is a deserted, beautiful little island with no cars and calm waters. Absolutely beautiful. The experience is unique here, but would be a little more expensive, but arguably worth it.

      You are going to have a great time wherever you go, don’t forget to look down whilst you’re swimming with the sharks, giant manta rays are known to migrate/swim with the group, I managed to see two! I paid around £40 for my trip, but some companies charge around $1000-1200 pesos.

      Any other questions just ask 🙂 You are going to have a great trip!

      • Thanks, I was planning on heading up to holbox anyway so will probably go from there. I travelled the rest of central America in 2012, so if you want to know anything about countries further south just ask. If you liked Livingston, definitely try and get to the corn islands in Nicaragua, good snorkeling and diving and the most southerly garifuna population. Enjoy the rest of your trip too!

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