Today, we’re headed south to Isla Mujeres, our favorite island in Mexico, for our annual whale shark trip. Whale sharks, the largest fish species swimming the world’s oceans, congregate off the coast of Isla Mujeres during the summer months. Hot, sunny days and ocean currents cause upwellings of plankton (tiny morsels of whale shark food). These conditions are prime for a feeding frenzy.
We first swam with Mexico’s whale sharks in August 2009 and we’ve been offering multi-day whale shark tours for clients since 2010. When we first started organizing these packages, only between 20 and 30 local fisherman, turned tour operator, were licensed to run whale shark tours. Now, between Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox, the number of licenses exceeds 200.
Responsible tourism can have a positive effect on wildlife conservation. One of the main reasons we continue to visit Isla Mujeres each year is not only to ensure the quality of the experience, but also to make sure that wildlife viewing ethics are being upheld by our local partners. The last thing we want is for increased pressure by more boat operators to force Mexico’s whale sharks to move elsewhere for food. To us, Mexico’s annual whale shark congregation is one of the greatest shows on the planet. We hope we, and our clients, get to witness it for many years to come.