Monday, May 24, 2010

Whale shark season coming up

A special time of the year is approaching, the annual arrival of the sea's gentle giants, the whale sharks. These harmless creatures arrive in the area north of Isla Mujeres, near Holbox island that has recently been established as a Biosphere Nature Preserve.

People can get a close look at these animals through the many tours offered from Holbox island.

Holbox is a small island (about seven miles long and a mile wide) off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, just a short drive from Cancun. Every year from June to September, whale sharks linger here on their annual migration. The sharks are one of the hottest tourist attractions on the island. Local boats take out groups of tourists to see and swim with them. Only two tourists at a time can enter the water, together with a guide.

Whale sharks are the world's largest fish, measuring up to 60 feet long. You're not allowed to touch the sharks and they soon swim away, so each swim lasts only a couple of adrenalin-charged minutes. Then you float in the water for a seeming eternity, waiting to be picked up by your boat…while you think of those sharks swimming below you. Fortunately, these are harmless animals, since they feed primarily on plankton.

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