Trip report: Wetpixel Whale Sharks 2017

The instructor that taught me to dive told me that “the sea always wins.” Well, today, that might be paraphrased the “the sea and its creatures always win!” On the second day of the Wetpixel Whale Sharks trip, we woke up this morning to a dull day with a stiff breeze, but despite this, set off for the boat at 7 am start. From leaving, it was obvious that conditions were going be significantly more challenging than those of the previous day.

We set off heading North and rapidly discovered that finding the whale sharks in the swell and flat light was difficult.

We did see a few sharks briefly, but did not have any options to get in and exploit the opportunities. The limited numbers of sharks meant that there were many boats all converging on a very few sharks.

This showed a flaw in the nature of the ecotourism that the whale shark aggregation. Mexican regulations require surface vessels maintain a distance of at least 10 m (33 ft) from whale sharks. When there are so few sharks, and a large number of people that have paid to “swim” with them, this causes some boat operators to behave badly. In order too ensure that their customers get to see the sharks, they turn inside other boats, often at higher speed than is advisable. Inevitably, this brings them much closer than the 10 m required by the regulations.

I am pleased to report that Keen M’s skippers and boats do not get involved in this. We sat and watched the “Star Wars Bar Scene” that was developing and then set out to go and see if we could find any other whale sharks.

After searching unsuccessfully for a couple of hours, we decided to head to Contoy Island. There is a pretty sheltered reef to snorkel on and it is a pleasant place to while away an hour and have some lunch!

Once back on land, most of the group set out to do a tour of Isla Mujeres in our golf carts.

We did find a whale shark…

And some of us took pictures of it!

The island is a laid back place, with lots of beautiful views and interesting fauna on land too.

Tomorrow is another 7 am start…here’s hoping for lots of sharks!

Day 1.
Day 2.
Day 3.
Day 4.
Day 5.
Day 6.
Day 7.
Days 8/9/10.