Gentle Giants

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If you ever get the chance, you have to do this!

In the summer plankton blooms in a special area outside Mexico. It is a shallow bank where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea, one hour with speedboat north of Isla Mujeres. This small creature, almost difficult to see, attracts the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark. And not just one. If you are lucky you can see 50 sharks out here. This peaceful and harmless huge fish can get up to 40 feet long and weigh 45 thousand pounds.

Can you imagine 50 of these swimming around in the surface in large circles with their mouths open? It is an incredible sight and it gets better. You can get in the water and swim with them for a while. They are filter feeders and do not have teeth, so even if they swim towards you with their mouth open it is not as dangerous as it looks. They swim to the side to avoid you, but you must pay a little attention not to get in their way. Because they are so big, a slap of the tail or other parts can be dangerous to us.


The way it works is that the captain positions the boat so one or several sharks aim straight towards the boat. You jump in the water and swim towards the sharks. They swim straight at you with their giant mouths wide open. When they are only a few feet away they close the mouth and turn to one side and pass you. Then you turn with them and follow for a while. Usually they swim slow but still considerably faster than you, so you only manage to follow a short while. After one encounter you get into the small boat, approach another shark, jump in the water and repeat the experience.

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It is a breathtaking experience. When they pass close and you swim along side, you can see their huge eyes looking at you. The large gills moving. On some of them you can see scars on their backs or on their fins. Then they glide pass you and you watch out for the enormous tail before they disappear into the blue. It is just one of those things you should do in your life, so if you have a bucket list…

Read more about the strange behavior of the Nassau grouper:

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