lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel


For the second year running, increased numbers of whale sharks are visiting the Yucatan coast not far from Cozumel.

These beautiful creatures, which are the world's largest fish, arrive every year on their annual migration, but locals say there have been more since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010.

A local operator of whale shark tours from Cozumel, says, "last year we saw record numbers of whale sharks around Isla Mujeres and Holbox, this year it looks like we are going to see even more".

Captains of boats and other local experts have suggested that the oil spill may have forced the animals south in greater numbers.

This means more arrive to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsular where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea.

Whale shark tours from Cozumel
World's largest fish.

Much is still unknown abut the migratory patterns of these huge fish, which are in fact massive toothless sharks, not whales.

What is known is that they arrive to the area due to an abundance of food between June and September, when the warmer currents of the Caribbean meet the cooler waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whalesharks Cozumel
Massive numbers migrating.


Tours to swim with these gentle giants are increasing in popularity and are the number of people in the water is limited.

This means tourists get a very special experience and at the same time the danger of stress for the whale sharks is reduced.

Not that they seem to mind, they are generally curious and friendly toward these funny looking creatures with masks and fins that jump in to play with them.

Kim from New Brunswick, Canada, was lucky enough to take a tour to see the whale sharks from Isla Mujeres last year.

She loved the experience and said she saw too many to count, ranging from about 15 feet to more than 30 feet in length.

Cozumel whaleshark tours
Another fish hitches a ride.

The best part was, "just hanging in the water watching the whale sharks come to me", said Kim, "the captain was so good at knowing when to tell us to jump in that we got to see the amazing animals approach us."

Whale sharks in Cozumel
Make the trip this year!


On the same tour, Kim took the photos on this story, which give an idea of just how calm the whale sharks are.

Visitors can swim closely with them, as long as they follow the rules, don't touch and keep a distance from the whale sharks' powerful tails.

Of course, only Mother Nature and the whale sharks themselves know if they will keep coming back in such large numbers every year.

So, if you would like the opportunity to swim with these fantastic fish, make the trip this year if you can.

Visit our Things To Do section to find out about one day tours to swim with the whale sharks from Cozumel.

A special thanks to Kim for the photos.