Whale shark expedition day! The anticipation builds, how will it be? There were almost 30 of us, would there be enough whale sharks to go around? We had snorkeled with whale sharks before in La Paz so our expectations were already quite high. 6 hours over 2 shifts seemed like an awfully long time to be out there, were we just going to be looking for them forever without actually getting to enjoy the experience? The crew had tried to set our expectations as such, telling us we should be prepared for a good deal of waiting.
Close Encounters with Whale Sharks
Off we went cruising on the panga, around the bend, and into the Bay. The first thing I noticed was that only the boats of our group were out there. Great start! I was in the last boat out and noticed right away that others were already in the water. That meant they had found whale sharks! Yeah!
Within 10 minutes, we were on to our first whale shark. “Go, go, go!”, Pascal, and our captain, shouted, and off we went. “Put your head down, now”, so we listened, and boom there it was directly below and coming right at us. I aligned myself to his side and off we went, swimming side-by-side for over a minute. I waited for it to dive, but it just did not. I swam until I could swim no more, enjoying and relishing every moment with this magnificent creature, fully in awe of its majestic size and its beautiful finesse. This moment felt so magical, I wanted to hold on to this feeling forever. This was my first encounter of the day, and it only got better from there.
Again, again, again, these encounters occurred as one-by-one our family dropped from exhaustion as they had as much as they could handle. As we neared the end of both our first and second 3-hr shifts, the sharks seemed to become more and more comfortable with us. They dove less, they slowed, and at times even seemed to stop, allowing us to just rest by their side and take them in fully. They even started to circle, to come back to us, and even came right up to our boats. It certainly seemed as if they were enjoying this almost as much as we were. The highlight for me came as I was swimming next to one shark, and then out of nowhere, another shark came right up almost kissing the first, with me tucked right in the middle of the two – heaven. Was I scared? No way! Ah, this was such an amazing day, and made the entire trip 100% worth it. Everything else will be icing on the cake.