It’s almost that time of year again! Every year locals and visitors alike wait with bated breath for these creatures to honor us with their presence. Why is the whale shark migration so special? Why do whale sharks come to Cancun? What is a whale shark anyway?
Let us tell you!
5 Whale shark facts that will astound you.
Is a Whale shark a fish or a mammal?
Are sharks mammals? It’s a common question but – a whale shark is a shark, and a shark is a fish! They are called whale sharks because they are literally humongous but have no similarities to actual whales. One of the most interesting differences between a whale and a whale shark is that whales breath air. This is why they come up to the surface frequently to obtain oxygen. Whilst a whale can drown underwater, a whale shark can suffocate above water. Whale sharks obtain their oxygen from their gills – because they are fish!
Do Sharks sleep?
Most sharks do not sleep and the whale shark is no exception. They need to keep moving in order to maintain the flow of water over their gills. However they do rest and part of their brain goes into ‘standby mode’. Nurse sharks are one of the exceptions to the rule and there is a famous location off the coast of Isla Mujeres, known as the ‘cave of the sleeping sharks’. It was very common to see nurse sharks resting amongst the corals. As the sharks have spiracles over their gills, they do not need to swim constantly like other sharks do. Hence the name resting or sleeping shark.
Where do Whale sharks migrate to?
These creatures like to confuse scientists, there’s no doubt about it. The distance a whaleshark can travel is impressive and they like to roam around without a definate direction. They are usually solitary but sometimes come together to feed in areas where plankton (their favourite feast) is dense. The waters around Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Holbox offer a banquet of plankton from May to September so this is why during whale shark season Cancun, it’s a prime location for swimming with them.
Where do Whale sharks go during ‘off-season’?
This is where it gets sketchy. We know when they arrive, we know when they leave. But they leave the area in different directions and then completely disappear! Is there a ‘Bermuda Whaleshark Triangle’ somewhere? Some efforts have been made to tag the whale sharks and results show that they migrate to areas in the southwestern Gulf to wait out the icy temperaturas.
How wide is a Whale shark’s mouth?
We know that whale sharks are without a doubt very, very long! 5.5 to 10m on average with the longest on record measuring 18.8m, a whopper!
But did you know that their mouth can measure about 1.5m? That’s the average height of a 12 year old boy. Not to worry however, whale sharks do not eat people and they are not agressive fish.
This is why Cancun whale shark tours are extremely popular during the season, it’s a safe activity where you can jump to the water and literally swim with them.
Swim with the Whale sharks Cancun
Here’s how you can do it – Book your whaleshark tour with Aquaworld Cancun and enjoy a day with these magestic sharks, not to be missed!