SNORKELING WITH THE GIANT FISH

Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
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Trip End Aug 18, 2010


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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Between July and September this little island becomes a magnet for anyone wanting to swim with Whale Sharks and we were not the exception. We seemed to have been chasing Whale Sharks since arriving in Central America and being about a month too late to see them.  

We had a long day's journey from Belize City to Cancun and then a three hour drive to the port and a thirty minute drive in a boat.  Everyone drives around in golf carts as there are no roads just sandy lanes.  It was ridiculous trying to balance our luggage and squeeze ourselves into two golf buggies. 

We were staying at a neat hotel by the sea front.  The 'city’ centre runs off a small square with many restaurants, bars, artisan shops, t-shirts, hippy jewelery and supermarkets.  It is very laid back and a real Mediterranean feel but Mexican style,  The bug-bear at the moment are the mosquito's – they are everywhere and a real nuisance with exception to El Mirador this has been the worst place for them but as one local told us "we are on their patch".

We were going out to find the Whale Sharks on our first day here.  We left early in the morning and joined two other couples as we sped out into the sea hunting the Whale Sharks followed by about nineteen other boats.   It was twenty minutes out to the sea and ten minutes looking for it.  In the end it was about twenty minutes out and an hour searching.  Everyone in the boat were thinking the same and that this was not going to be our lucky day but all of a sudden we were hacking out to a point – a Whale Shark had been spotted.  The only problem was that we were not the only boat hacking there too and by the time we got there a ‘crowd’ or ‘cluster’ (what do you call a group of boats?) of potential snorkelers putting on their flippers and masks.

The good news is that the WWF has been working with the local tourist industry and strict regulations have to be applied.  This means that only three can be with the Shark at any one time and one of those has to be a guide.  No touching the Whale Shark or boats getting near to the Shark.  But even with these rules you could not feel sorry for the beasts.

It was our turn to get in the water and swim.  Lily went first with a single person in the boat and she was very composed and jumped into the water and swam next to the guide.  All we heard was a scream as the black shadow in the water swam under her.  She could hardly contain herself as she pulled herself into the boat just full of excitement and disbelief on the size of the mammal.  It was Edie and my turn next and I could utterly relate to how Lily felt.  The visibility was limited and you are searching for the Whale Shark and then this mammoth shape looms below you swimming fast.  You notice its large mouth shape and the fish stuck to its body or swimming beside him, then the fins and finally he swung his rear fin right beside my hand – it was slim and strong  and perfectly shaped and from this angle it looked like a large shark.  He moved fast and even though it was a minute maximum it was really exciting. 

But it did not stop we carried on getting in line with the other boats for everyone to have their go and then we motored off to find another Whale Shark.  After a while our luck was in and we were beside an even larger Whale Shark with only four other boats.  We were back in the water again – in fact three more times which was fabulous as the next time you knew what to expect and was more prepared.   We failed to have a waterproof camera, just a disposal able one so we will have to upload our photos when we find someone who will process a film! 

 

The next few days on the island we just chilled and caught up with our scrapbook, blogg and relaxed as when we leave here for Chichen Itsu our programme is full until we reach our next beach destination on the 7th August.
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