An awesome thing to do in La Paz is to swim with the whale shark. However, it is pretty likely that we know very little about them: Who are they? What do I need to know? Is it safe? And what should I expect from the experience? These are very common questions that for sure will cross your mind. That is why here we summarize some points and frequently asked questions that you should take into account before getting in the water, so that you fully enjoy this safe and entertaining adventure :
- Its large size and noble personality place it in the classification among the largest fish in the world, with lengths of up to 12 meters and weight of up to 20 tons This good-natured giant does not represent any danger to humans, they are calm and friendly. Something they cannot say about us because:
- Currently they are in the danger of extinction category. This is happening as a result of the reduction of their populations due to legal and illegal fishing that they have suffered throughout history, in addition to other threats such as garbage in the seas, accidents with boats and pollutants that result in a change in their habitat. There may also be human behaviors in tourism that negatively affect the biology of the animal. Therefore, the best and most sensible thing to do when interacting with them is to listen carefully to the instructions and recommendations of the guides and choose those who have certifications and permits in order. In this way it can be an enriching experience for you and a safe one for the species.
- Its thick skin, which reaches up to 10 cm in thickness, seems to be painted by nature itself and it is so beautiful that it will never be erased from your memory. Its belly is white and the rest of the body is dark greyish, with a multitude of spots and vertical and horizontal stripes of white or yellowish color; as if it were a chess board. These lines and points are unique characteristics of each individual and serve as patterns of identification, unmatched and unrepeatable as the experience itself.
- Its scientific name is Rhincodon typus and it is highly mobile. It can travel thousands of kilometers across oceans and dive to great depths; however, unlike their cousins, whale sharks can stay close to the surface for a long time, as it is the place where they search and find their food easily. This is why it is easy for us to find them and swim with them. But this also increases their vulnerability, so it is always advisable to do it with great responsibility.
- Whale sharks feed on a variety of prey and do so through a water filtration mechanism. It basically sucks in zooplankton, such as crustacean and copepod larvae, also sardines, anchovies; and occasionally larger prey such as squid, tuna or horse mackerel.
- Why do these giants of the sea choose our beautiful bay? There is scientific evidence that tells us that this area is used by the whale shark as a breeding area due to the existence of specific hydrographic conditions, abundant food and protection from predators.
- In the bay of La Paz swimming with the whale shark is allowed between October and April. Check the best option to carry out this activity with your favorite tour operator
We hope this information is useful for your next adventure in the water with these wonderful beings. Experiencing this so closely, observing their natural habitat, colorful fish andremoras swimming around them; seeing the tranquility as they move, witnessing their giant mouth filtering tiny zooplanktonis definitely something that you will remember with joy and carry in your memory forever.
Now you are ready. Jump in the water!!!