Each year, whale sharks grace the warm Caribbean waters off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico with their magnificent arrival beginning around the middle of May. These gentle giants, which happen to be the largest fish species in the world, migrate to this area each year to feed in the warm waters around Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Here are some of the top tips to help you enjoy Cancun’s whale shark season this year:
Growing to incredible sizes that average around 40 feet long and 11 tons in weight, whale sharks may seem intimidating due to their massive proportions, but in reality are not dangerous in the least to humans. In fact, their docile behavior and slow-moving, relaxed vibe make them an inviting sea creature to interact with. The popularity of swimming with whale sharks has grown significantly in recent years, and is now one of the most sought-after tours to experience while visiting Cancun.
Realize that Nature is in Charge
As with any other experience that relies on the actions and behavior of wildlife, swimming with whale sharks is completely dictated by these incredible fish. They are wild animals and even though they may have patterns that are fairly predictable, there are never any guarantees you will interact with them. The conditions of the water on any given day can make a huge difference on the likelihood that you will have an encounter with whale sharks. When water conditions are rough, it can be harder to find groups of whale sharks and can also cause sea sickness. If there has been a recent rain shower, whale sharks tend to stay far lower in the water instead of feeding near the surface. Make sure that you check with your tour provider at the time of booking that the sea conditions will make for an ideal outing so that you have a great time. Keep in mind that the largest groups of whale sharks are often spotted in the months of July and August.
There are Rules to be Followed
Whale sharks are on the threatened species list, which means there are several important rules to follow in order to keep them from harm. On a group tour, there must be a guide to accompany every two participants as they get in the water to swim with the whale sharks. This means that some encounters last just minutes each and you may only get the chance to do it a few times. If you want to spend more time up close with these phenomenal creatures, you may want to consider booking a private guided tour that will allow you to enjoy the activity at your own pace. You may not approach whale sharks on jet skis, and diving around them is prohibited. You need to maintain a distance of at least 3 feet away from the bodies of whale sharks and 10 or more feet from their tails. In order to show whale sharks respect and keep them safe, do not attempt to touch them, do not photograph them using a flash and use only biodegradable sunscreen.
Because the whale shark species is facing a high risk of extinction, it is important that we all do whatever we can to protect them and that includes choosing a tour operator who is not only experienced and knowledgeable, but one who is environmentally conscious and respectful of the animals and their natural surroundings. Look for a company with certified guides who will help ensure your experience is wonderfully unforgettable. The tour agency onsite at Villa del Palmar Cancun will be able to help you find the perfect tour for you and your family.