Growing up to 11m long, the whale shark is the world’s largest fish – and you can get up-close and personal on a responsible diving trip to see these incredible creatures
Some diving or snorkeling trips to some of the world’s best marine spots can feel like a feeding frenzy. The multitude of tourists and boats can be overwhelming for wildlife and the marine habitat, but many tour operators are working differently.
One such company, wilderness travel outfit Aqua-Firma, leads adventure tours that support whale shark conservation, as well as giving thrill seekers and wildlife fans the opportunity to come face-to-face with these formidable fish.
Two key spots to swim with these sharks are in Tanzania and Mexico. Both Mafia Island, off Tanzania, and the world’s second largest barrier reef, along the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, offer optimal opportunities for sighting whale sharks and witnessing their migration.
Marine Biologist, Dr. Simon Pierce says, “The most whale sharks I have seen from our research vessel in Mexico is about 180, with as many giant manta rays to snorkel with beneath the water.”
Aqua-Firma offer a number of snorkelling and diving trips around the world. Other shark encounters include: walking beside white tip reef sharks and scuba diving with schools of a hundred or more hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos, Malpelo and Costa Rica’s Cocos Island; glimpsing even larger schools of Silky Sharks in Mexico’s Socorro; and finding Ragged Tooth Sharks whose teeth litter the floor at their popular hangouts in South Africa.
While the travel group helps explorers experience some of the world’s greatest diving locations, conservation of the marine environment is a priority. The company contributes directly to marine protection through whale shark tours. In the Galapagos, divers have the chance to learn about marine life conservation and see it in action as donations go directly to the Galapagos Conservation Trust. On Mafia Island in Tanzania trips can raise a whole year’s funds for whale shark research.
The tours pay homage to all areas of the environment they touch. From preserving the sea and land, to respecting the culture and heritage along the coast, explorers not only get an in-depth view of the countries they visit, but significantly contribute to the well-being and conservation of the life that inhabits them.
Whale shark trips start from £1,590 with departures in July/August (Mexico) and November (Tanzania). For full details of each tour visit http://www.aqua-firma.co.uk/countries/Tanzania/ or http://www.aqua-firma.co.uk/countries/Mexico/.