With a head like a truck and a body covered in polka dots, swimming alongside the enormous whale shark is high up on any avid divers ‘must do’ list of underwater experiences.
Whale sharks are the largest cartilaginous fish in the world, yet are nothing to be afraid of. The ocean giants filter feed on plankton, which explains the enormous size of their head and mouth. To sustain a 12 metre long shark feeding on a food source that is around 0.04% of its size requires one huge set of jaws. Whale sharks scoop up plankton and any unsuspecting small fish hanging near the ocean’s surface, using their mouth like a net to collect the massive amount of food they require.
Whale sharks thrive in waters of warmer temperatures, which means if you want to spend some time underwater with them pack your bags for somewhere tropical. Mexico is not only renowned for the encounters travellers can have with these magical animals, but is an insanely fantastic and relatively untouched dive destination in its own right.
Mexico is where seeing these incredible creatures is almost guaranteed at certain times of the year. Live aboard diving vessels in Mexico usually plan their itineraries around the seasons, so you’ll have to decide where you want to go and what you want to see prior to booking your trip.
Whale sharks can often be spotted in the Sea of Cortez. Protected by the Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortez’s relatively calm water stretches for over 1000 kilometres. Almost a third of the world’s species of cetaceans can be found in this underwater microcosm, and diving in the Sea of Cortez is absolutely phenomenal. From July to October, dive live aboards visit this area for week long action-packed trips.
Scattered throughout the Sea of Cortez are endless pinnacles, islands and rock formations so there’s no shortage of live aboard dive sites. There are few animals that can melt even the coldest of hearts quite like sea lions can, and the Sea of Cortez is where a dive can quickly turn into an underwater play session with these puppies of the sea! It’s not uncommon to be able to tick more than one kind of whale off your bucket list, with species of orcas, dolphins and whales spotted regularly.
The unique geographical position of the sea and the surrounding area has resulted in species that can only be found in this area, and diving in the Sea of Cortez presents divers with the rare chance to encounter the endangered and unique sub species of porpoise endemic to the area, the vaquita. The Sea of Cortez is bursting with so much life that it’s difficult to list it all and really do this melting pot of marine life justice, so I recommend you just book that trip and head over there yourself! Due to the remoteness of the Sea of Cortez, the best way to head over to this part of the world is by a dive live aboard.
If a different kind of ocean giant is more your thing, Socorro in Mexico is one of the few destinations where you have the chance to interact underwater with humpback whales (another great spot to swim with humpbacks is the Kingdom of Tonga). Socorro has been coined ‘Mexicos Galapagos’, and it’s easy to see why.
The Socorro Islands are a group of 4 islands each named individually, but are often collectively referred to as the Socorro group. Liveaboard diving at Socorro offers encounters of the pelagic kind, and plenty of them. Sharks can be found here in the hundreds.
The team onboard the Solmar V live aboard once counted 7 different species of shark on a single dive!
Huge schools of hammerheads can be seen gliding past along with Giant Pacific manta ray. This species of manta can grow to just under 7 metres from wing-tip to wing-tip, and are regularly visitors to the Socorro Islands. Whale sharks are a special treat at the islands, and can be spotted in November/December and late April/May.
If heart-stopping adrenalin rushes and interactions with some of the biggest creatures to call this blue planet of ours home is what you’re all about, Mexico needs to be your next live aboard dive destination. The biodiversity of this dive destination truly needs to be seen to be believed.