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Whale Shark Snorkeling Expedition 2021

By August 14, 2021No Comments

A Big Fish Expeditions Trip Report

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Mexico.
Another Great Whale Shark Trip!

Great weather every day, excellent visibility, awesome whale sharks, and a really fun group! Initially, I think everyone was just overjoyed to be on a trip again after a year of stay-cationing at home.
Day One was our probably our slowest day, but even then we had enough sharks for some good close-up encounters and great photo ops.

Snorkeling with whale sharks
Last Boat in the Ocean

As usual, most of the other boats turned tail for Cancun by about 11am, leaving a handful of serious whale shark boats to enjoy the entire whale shark aggregation. By about 1pm we had the ocean completely to ourselves which is just the way we like it because at that point the encounters get even better.

We have a reputation for always being the last group to return so if you’re looking for a quick dip with a whale shark this probably isn’t the trip for you, but if your after quality time with the world’s biggest fish, we’ve got you covered 😉

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Mexico.
Sharks gorging on Tuna Eggs

On Day Two there were more sharks at the surface, and they were more tightly packed. This probably means they were feeding on a denser patch of eggs. Each summer, the sharks aggregate north of Isla Mujeres to gorge themselves on tuna eggs. Tuna (mostly skipjack and bonito) spawn in the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico. The tiny eggs float the surface and form large mats that drift out to sea. Once the whale sharks locate a nice thick patch of eggs, they swim back and forth at the surface scooping up as many of the protein rich eggs as they can while the egg mass drifts slowly northward. Eventually the eggs spread out too thinly to be a worthwhile meal, so the sharks kick back towards the Gulf until they locate the next batch.

Photographing whale sharks while snorkeling.
Tiny Food

The eggs are so small that you can’t really see them in the water column, but when they’re inside the cavernous mouth of a whale shark, they shine in the darkness.

Whale Shark feeding on tuna eggs.
Whale Sharks Galore!

Day Three was amazing! The sharks were so tightly packed that at one point we had difficulty finding a path through them to pick up our snorkelers. That was the point when the serious shooters on the trip switched from framing nice portraits to only shooting if there were multiple sharks in the viewfinder. The encounters were truly epic!

Swimming with whale sharks in Mexico.
Solar Eclipse

Once all the other boats had bailed (I still find it hard to believe they do that) I adjusted my buoyancy and concentrated on free-diving silhouettes of the sharks. From below, the sharks were big enough to create a perfect solar eclipse.

Whale shark silhouette
Happy Exhaustion

Day Four brought us more sharks, not quite as many as the previous day, but still more whale sharks than most divers see in a lifetime. By the time we left, everyone was happily exhausted from trying to keep up with giant sharks.

Swimming with whale sharks.
An Awesome Week at Sea

All in all, it was an awesome week. I’m sure next year’s trip will be just as epic so please join us if you have yet to experience the largest aggregation of the biggest fish on earth: Whale Sharks 2022

Whale Shark snorkeling trip to Mexico.
Snorkeling with a feeding Whale Shark.