Featured Image Credit: Youtube Screenshot/RM Videos
By: Kira Krall
Paddleboarders in Cancun, Mexico recently got the thrill of their lives as a whale shark swam peacefully underneath them. Luckily, a drone recorded the fantastic moment. Watch the encounter!
Whale shark migrants can be found in the waters of the Yucatan Peninsula from May to September. The plankton that whale sharks feed on go crazy for the nutrient-rich waters found there during the summer. The sharks are so reliable, over 12,000 tourists per year make their way to the Peninsula to swim with the largest fish in the world.
Robert Hueter’s research project out of Mote Marine Laboratory identified over 800 individual animals in this coastal hot spot, some of which returned to the same nutrient-packed waters six years in a row. One individual that stood out was a presumably pregnant female that swam a five-month, 7,800-mile journey into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean before her tag popped off.
Hueter and his fellow shark researchers assume that pregnant females leave the feeding grounds for the almost predator-free open ocean. However, whale shark mating and pupping is still a mystery. Only a few baby whale sharks have ever been found like the pup featured below.
If you’re ever in the market for a wild whale shark experience, know how to swim responsibly. Choosing a legitimate tour guide is a great start but you should also keep the animal’s personal space in mind so they can eat in peace. These sharks travel thousands of miles for the best meal of the year!