During their annual migration pattern, whale sharks visit the welcoming warm waters just off of the Yucatan Peninsula on Mexico’s Caribbean coast starting every year around mid-May. The warm waters near Cancun and the Riviera Maya are an ideal feeding area which draws these gigantic yet gentle creatures back each year.
Whale sharks are the largest fish species found on the planet and can reach enormous sizes: their average length is 40 feet and their average weight is 11 tons! Although their colossal proportions might make them seem a bit scary, whale sharks do not pose a threat to humans and their calm, slow-moving demeanor has helped make swimming with them one of the most sought-after activities in the Cancun region. Consider these top tips before you embark on your own adventure during the whale shark season in Cancun:
Understand that Nature is in Control
An adventure swimming with whale sharks is, naturally, controlled by the animals themselves. Although they do have certain patterns that make it more likely to find them, they are still wild creatures and as we all know, there are never guarantees when animals are in charge. The water conditions each day play a big part in how likely it is to swim with whale sharks. When the water is choppy, finding groups of whale sharks is more difficult and the larger waves may induce sea sickness. When it has rained recently, whale sharks often swim much lower in the sea rather than feeding close to the surface of the water. Ask your tour provider before booking your excursion if the current sea conditions will enhance or take away from your experience. In the Cancun area, July and August typically host the largest groups of whale sharks.
Follow the Rules
In order to keep whale sharks (which are on the threatened species list) safe, many important rules have been put in place. For every two participants, one guide must accompany them as they enter the water to swim with the whale sharks during a group tour. This can lead to swimming times that are just a few minutes long, with each participant having a limited number of chances. For a more personalized experience, consider booking a private guided tour that will allow you more time to spend in the water with these magnificent animals. Diving around whale sharks or approaching them with a jet ski is forbidden. It is essential that you stay at least 3 feet away from their bodies and at least 10 feet away from their powerful tails. To ensure a respectful encounter with whale sharks, refrain from touching them, only wear biodegradable sunscreen and do not use a flash when photographing them.
Unfortunately, whale sharks are at high risk of extinction, which is why it is so crucial that we all help them thrive in any way we can. When you choose a knowledgeable and experienced tour operator who conducts their whale shark encounters in a respectful manner which protects the animals and their delicate marine environment, you will be doing your part in helping safeguard these docile creatures. Seek out a provider that offers certified guides who will undoubtedly make your encounter with whale sharks one you will never forget! Ask the tour agency at Villa del Palmar Cancun for the best whale shark tours.