Swimming with Whale Sharks

Monday, March 13, 2017
I was woken up at what seemed to be the crack of dawn, but was actually seven a.m., to get ready to swim with whale sharks. I scarfed down a quick breakfast, shrugged on my wetsuit and was ready to get on the panga. We met Jack on the dock and departed.
It was a ten-minute ride to the whale shark area and another twenty until we found a shark. Our guide, Dante, told us that the night before had been the full moon, so the sharks had gorged on the abundant plankton. After having filled themselves during the night, the whale sharks were moving instead of feeding. We hurriedly cleaned our masks and slipped on our flippers, ready to jump into the water as soon as Dante gave the signal. We hopped into the water and chased after the whale shark, quickly seeing what our neighbors had said was true: you really have to swim to keep up with them. As we slid into the water I was filled with a nervous anticipation. That emotion soon disappeared as I was confronted with the problem of water getting into my mask, making it hard for me to keep up. After finally fixing the mask, I was able to swim up to the great beast. Seeing the whale shark fly through the water with such ease filled me with a feeling of awe. I swam up to the mouth and saw her gills flexing. Each one was easily the length of my torso and as wide as my hand. She flicked her enormous, six-foot-long tail side to side as slow as could be, but the shark somehow glided through the water as fast as we could swim. She was thirty feet long with white polka dots covering her grey body. She had two dorsal fins, both of them near the tail, and a pectoral fin protruding on each side. When closed, her mouth was extremely broad but not very tall. The gill slits were 3 feet behind the beginning of her mouth, reaching down to her white tummy. We swam by the whale shark for 10 or 15 minutes, but she eventually dove down. We were lucky enough to swim with another one, but after that we had to leave, even though we had spotted a third.
We soon arrived back at port and left La Paz by 1:00. As we first left the bay it was blowing twenty knots apparent and we were flying a full main and jib, going close-hauled. Soon the wind quieted down and we ghosted along at a steady pace of four knots. We arrived at the anchorage of Caleta Partida in the late afternoon and settled down for the night. Devon

2 thoughts on “Swimming with Whale Sharks

  1. Hi intrepid sailors,kiteboarders,whale shark swimmers, and bloggers! Greetings from San Francisco, where the landlocked section of Kim’s circle (including Jone!) met yesterday, and had a great time looking at your photos and marveling at your adventures so far and to come. We have a photo, but don’t think I can post it in the comments. love to you all!


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