Only in a few places in the world, whale sharks can be seen and observed, such as in summer in the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Every year between June and August, hundreds of hungry whale sharks come into the plankton-rich waters to look for food. Mostly, the whale sharks of the Riviera Maya do not come alone. They come accompanied by dolphins, sharks, manta rays and turtles to the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Then, the coast of Yucatan has a unique spectacle of nature and on good days hundreds of hungry animals can be seen close to the water surface. Sometimes they can be seen with a huge number of manta rays.
You are interested in the largest fish of the oceans? If you are planning your stay in Mexico in the summer months, make sure you do not miss the whale sharks of the Riviera Maya. Anybody who wants to observe the whale sharks of the Riviera Maya has two different tours to choose from. Both in the waters of the island of Holbox and in the waters of Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoi, the whale shark of the Riviera Maya can be observed. It is important to know that the two waters have different visibility. The water off the island of Holbox is greenish in color and the visibility is usually not as good. On the other hand, the water at Isla Mujeres is bluish. As a result, the visibility is around 15 meters. Thus, the whale shark of the Riviera Maya can be better observed near Isla Mujeres.
What should you know about the whale sharks of the Riviera Maya
Whale shark Riviera Maya
Whale sharks belong to the sharks, because of their stomlinien-shaped way of swimming as well as the how they reproduce. The name whale is only meant to describe the size of the animals. After all, the whale shark is the largest shark and thus the largest creature in the sea. With 13 meters, whale sharks easily reach the size of a bus, with a weight of 12 tons. Usually, females are larger than males.
Whale sharks are found in all tropical and subtropical waters of the three oceans. In the western Atlantic, the circulation area extends from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. Whale sharks travel a few thousand kilometers in one year. They follow the food in the form of plankton and swarms of small fish. Whale sharks as well as mantas feed almost exclusively on microorganisms. Therefore, the whale shark of the Riviera Maya also comes back every year to the coast off Yucatan, because the sea water at this time is particularly rich in nutrients.
The whale shark is a plankton eater
Plancton eater whale shark Isla Mujeres
To eat, whale sharks appear on the water surface because the plankton occurs at the surface water. There, the whale shark, with its mouth open, swims slowly through swarms of plankton and sucks in as much water as possible. It absorbs about 6,000 liters of water per hour. The whale shark opens its mouth usually wider than a meter. In the pine, whale sharks have several rows of small teeth. The teeth are not needed for eating. However, here are small sensors with which the water is filtered. The filtered water comes out of the body via the gills. The filter only captures organisms less than 2 mm in size. As soon as larger objects enter the mouth, it closes and the animal goes down.
Swimming with whale sharks is harmless to humans. Because humans are far too big to go through as food for whale sharks. Accidents can happen, however, if people do not comply with the required safety distance of two meters from the animals. Theoretically a slap from the fin of the animal is possible.
The whale shark is one of the most endangered shark species
Snorkeling with whale sharks Riviera Maya
The whale shark is considered severely threatened. Its sexual maturity reaches the whale shark depending upon sex between 15 and 30 years. The whale shark is one of the live-bearing shark species. Due to the large distribution area and the small number of adult whale sharks, genders rarely meet. Thus, mating takes place only occasionally. Whale sharks can give birth to up to 300 young animals. The newborns have a size of about 60 centimeters at birth. Different young and older forms of development live in parallel in the mother body. The further the young whale sharks are developed, the closer the young are to the birth opening. It is believed that the female can control the development and thus the birth of the young whale sharks. Thus, the kittens are only born when the chances of survival are high. The life expectancy of whale sharks is probably 60 to 100 years.
What makes a good whale shark tour
- Small groups: maximum 10 people
- No more than two customers snorkeling simultaneously with the whale shark
- A guide is always in the water
- Guaranteed sighting in July and August. Otherwise, the tour can be repeated free of charge