Whalesharks: The Largest Fish in the World
Gemini and other cruising friends were lucky enough to see these creatures in Bahia de Los Angeles in the northern half of Baja, Mexico. We even swam with them, if you can imagine that!
A whale shark is not a whale. It is a shark without the frenzied behavior and carnivorous habits we fear. Although they weigh up to 15 tons (that's twice as much as our boat) with a mouth up to 4 feet wide, we are not targets for them because they are filter feeders. They have 300 rows of very tiny teeth (each row has hundreds of little teeth)--just the right size for munching on plankton. The three sharks we encountered were 25 to 40 feet long, cruising around our anchorage and stopping everyone in their tracks. You can visit Bahia de Los Angeles and see them for yourself, but hurry--whale sharks only live to be about 100 years old.
Coming at you, these stealthy creatures are easy to underestimate. But in the rare case where you get to swim with them, they are awesome. Dreamweaver's Chris Butts approaches cautiously with Les flanking him. By holding on to the dorsal fin they were able to go along for a few minutes' ride--
the experience of a lifetime.
This web photo may not seem too intimidating, but look at Also II's 10-ft raft in the background!
Although they are rarely seen in groups, we observed three that were swimming together. After a few days observing them, we were able to identify individuals by their tags, which had been placed there by a research group studying this rare breed.
Photos From 2001: The Second Summer in the Sea
We were fortunate enough to encounter these lovely creatures again--this time from our dinghy, giving us a "close-up & personal" experience. Glassy, early-morning waters revealed a spotted mound, which at first looked just like a turtle. But when Diane came up to it, she realized we had hit "gold": a 35-foot whaleshark.
After hearing Diane's announcement on the VHF radio, other boaters arrived to watch the whaleshark circle the dinghies, apparently as curious about us as we were about him... or her? (Nobody had the guts to check!) Long Tall Sally brought their digital camera and captured these precious moments, including this one of Greg, who just can't seem to believe what he's seeing. When Penny took this head-on shot of the mouth, she really captured the uniqueness of this creature.
Now I know what they mean by "dappled sunlight".
Click any thumbnail for full-size photos of these awesome creatures.
Fascinated after interacting with these creatures, we couldn't wait to get to an internet cafe.
We found some great information at EnchantedLearning.com and other sites.
Go to Useful Links if you want to browse for more sites.
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