Today while I was in my children’s class teaching them the names of animals in English, we started talking about the many different kinds of sharks that exist. One of the kids then piped up about the whale shark being the biggest there is, which got me thinking about all the scuba diving tours I heard about when I worked in Playa del Carmen a couple of years ago.
One of these said tours was to go scuba diving with whale sharks. Now if I were around the area at the time this is something that I definitely would be signing up for quick smart as it looks incredible. Fortunately whale sharks don’t have much of a taste bud for humans so diving with these enormous creatures is relatively safe and they won’t be trying to eat you unless, of course, you swim in front of their open mouth. Even so, there haven’t been any reports of unwary swimmers being eaten by whale sharks.
From mid May to September droves of whale sharks flock to the Mexican Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico making for an incredible diving experience for those who swim alongside these impressive creatures. Tours can very easily be found all around the region including Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, Cozumel, Cancun and Playa del Carmen and the list goes on.
Not only can you dive with whale sharks, you can also, if you don’t have a divers license like yours truly, simply snorkel or even swim alongside them without having to go through the lengthy process of learning how to dive. Swimmers or divers are usually allowed to glide alongside the sharks in small groups so as not to scare or overwhelm them. Considering this, if you are on a tour and feel that the operator is not respecting the animals don’t be afraid to tell them to back off, as unfortunately, while most do, not all operators respect the regulations in place to protect the sharks.
However, it has been reported that Mexican operators tend to have great respect for the whale sharks in the region and do their best to keep both animals and divers happy which is all good news so far. While this is something that I haven’t tried, it is something that I certainly would love to check out as it really does appear to be an exhilarating, once in a lifetime experience.