Our trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico to swim with whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) was all we hoped it would be. The visibility here is better than some other locations as whale sharks come to Isla Mujeres to feed on Bonito (tuna) eggs which are clear, unlike other areas in the world where they feed on plankton.
Although we were focussed on whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) it is not uncommon to find manta rays in the same areas. On our 3rd & 4th day we had fewer encounters with the whale sharks but found areas where there were also manta and mobula rays. We had some great encounters with these rays!
One of the photography techniques we would like to perfect is Over-Under such as this one. Over-Under photos are tricky as you need to take into account the lighting and focus of both below and above the water line.
Whale Shark Facts:
- they are called the Gentle Giants for a good reason as they can grow to over 40′ in length & weigh up to 21.5 tons (47,000 lb)
- they are filter feeders and feed mostly on plankton, copepods, krill, fish eggs as well as small crabs & fish
- their life expectancy is 70 to 100 years
- they reach sexual maturity at 30 years and give birth to live young
- they prefer to stay near the surface but can dive down to 5000′
- they have no natural predators and humans are their only threat to survival
- their mouths can grow to over 4.5′ wide
- they filter an average of 1,500 gallons of water every hour
- they are highly migratory but swim very slowly