ENCOUNTERS WITH GIANTS
WHALE SHARK DAY.
Ten years ago I saw my first whale shark in Chichiriviche de la Costa, Venezuela; nobody trusted me when I surfaced, “ I saw a whale shark,” I yelled!!! I was doing safety for a friend (a basic in Freediving is to have a buddy waiting for you the last third of your dive, where the biggest risk is). There I was at 20 meters, waiting for my friend to come up, I see this big shadow passing very calm in front of me. The shadow made me feel like someone paused time. When my friend came back, his back was to the shark, and since it is very difficult to communicate underwater I just did a grouper call (noise from the throat that freedivers use to make sounds underwater).
The white dots of the whale shark has given me the peace I needed to enjoy underwater in a very special way…
Since this day in Chichirivche de la Costa is famous for SCUBA divers, we only had to reach the sand so I could take dozens of photographs to prove my marvellous encounter.
This beautiful experience has repeated several times for me in the same areas, and I can tell you one thing it´s always amazing.
Know them for life…
Whale shark tour guide from Holbox, Luis, tells us about his experience.
Earlier this month, photographer Domingo Cabrera and I decided to make a trip to Mexico, to be more specific Holbox. We were on a quest to shoot a photo that we have been dreaming about for years. Our voyage found way more than that; we found an experience that filled us with gratitude and humbleness. A whale shark tour guide named Luis had the leading role in my story. He is a man that is passionate about his job and told me all the things he does as a whale shark tour guide.
Luis told us that the touristic move for the whale shark in Holbox started 16 years ago, at that point the whale sharks used to get very close to the island. Within 30 minutes of sailing, you could be sharing a great time with these majestic creatures. However this time it took us more than 3 hours to find them. Because each day they show up in a different place, and the first boat to find them let the rest know where they are by radio, every day they show up farther and farther.
Luis talks about a past in which the whale shark was not respected.“Back then we had no rules,” said Luis. “We used to do all sorts of mean things to them, like jumping on their backs.” Things are much more regulated now, and as such, the whale shark keeps coming back in big numbers.
The main purpose of the whale sharks to visit Mexico is for food. They go there to eat as the region has lots of plankton and that is their favorite meal. Plankton lays on the surface of the warm Caribbean, and the whale sharks have been visiting Holbox for years now. The season is between June 1st and September 16th. When the season ends, they remain in the area, but tour guides are no longer allowed to bring tourists since the whale shark needs some relax time to feast. When the season ended, the guides needed to do some other money producing activities, and that was mainly fishing. So a group of marine biologists got into the job of educating the locals, helping them to understand that the fish they were fishing are worth more living than dead. More fish in the water meant more whale sharks visiting. Now they are very proud of their whale sharks and have a series of strict rules and regulations that encourage the whale shark to return every year.
The photo of my dreams…
Was this one, well not exactly like this one but this turned out to be AWESOME. The main point for me to take this photo and many others like it was to create a visual impact on people.
As I said in my previous article, we only care and love what we know. The best way for me is to show people that I love marine species so much that I´m more than happy to swim next to them wearing my wedding dress. Even if it looks like a fantasy, our reality is making us all as vulnerable as them.