Whale sharks are among the most majestic and beautiful creatures on earth. Reaching lengths of up to 18m (55 feet), and weighing upwards of 46,00kg (100,000lbs), they are the largest fish in all the oceans. Only a few whale species are larger. But, despite their enormous size, they are the gentlest of giants. They are incapable of harming a human, even if they wanted to. They have no teeth and they have no aggression towards people.
Whale sharks feed by swimming through the water with their mouth open, filtering plankton, fish eggs, and krill, along with the occasional tiny fish. They have huge combs called baleen that allow them to capture food and expel water through their gills. They are able to outswim humans easily and they can swim away from predators or dive deep to avoid them.
These swimmers in Mexico were part of an ethical tour that allows wildlife photographers and videographers to enter the water cautiously and wait for a whale shark to swim near enough to record them. Strict about the rules and regulations regarding distance from the animals, photographers and guests may only enter the water with a licensed guide and they must avoid causing the sharks any stress.
These photographers were thrilled to see a whale shark headed right toward them. With its mouth open, it gave them a close look down its throat as it passed within inches of them. As required, the swimmers remained motionless and waited. The shark was close enough to touch, but there are good reasons why they refrained. As the shark passed by them, they turned and followed. This whale shark casually swam along, unconcerned with their presence.
A close encounter with a creature so magnificent is a once in a lifetime experience.
Anyone considering a tour like this should seek only an ethical operation. Serious Diving in Isla Mujeres not only follows the rules carefully to avoid negative effects on the animals, but they also contribute to the development of protection policies and to conservation efforts.
The Mazatlan Post