Whale Shark Season Begins in Quintana Roo

Whale Shark Season Begins in Quintana Roo Photo courtesy of Pelagic Visions - Blue H2o Cozumel

Whale Shark Season Begins in Quintana Roo
Photo courtesy of Pelagic Visions – Blue H2o Cozumel

Whale Shark migration season officially started on May 15th in Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula.  Whale Sharks, (or Rhincodon typus as they are known in Latin), typically arrive at the areas near Holbox and Isla Mujeres from May – September every year to feed off the plankton-rich waters.  These beautiful creatures are considered an endangered migratory species, and are thusly protected by strict regulations that allow low-impact tourism only.  While visitors can watch and swim with the fish, it’s an extremely regulated and protected activity.

Representatives from area tourism agencies are estimating that up to 400 whale sharks will visit the Yucatan Peninsula, and 200 of these will be around Contoy and Holbox Islands.  Generally speaking,  whale sharks are plankton feeders which can be found near the surface of the water during the morning hours.  They are also known to eat krill, and mirco-algae.
Isla Mujeres will host  heir 8th annual Whale Stark Festival in July, showcasing the achievements, traditions, and environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres and attracts over 5,000 people. The family-friendly fest encourages swimming with the whale sharks and educating visitors on the need to preserve the area’s marine ecosystem. A part of the proceeds from the festival will go to Amigos de Isla Contoy, a non-profit working to advance education on sustainable marine conservation and ecotourism in the region. For more information visit    www.whalesharkfest.com.

Although Cozumel is not fortunate enough to host these wondrous animals, who can reach 14M/46 FT in length, the island is close enough to make a day trip to Isla Mujeres, Isla Controy or Holbox.  Whale Shark season runs until September.  Even if you’re only on the island for a few days during this time of year, consider making the once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Laura Wilkinson
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