The whale sharks “kingdom”.

After a 24 hour journey we finally landed at the airport of Cancun on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. We felt very tired but no less full of expectation and we still had another 30 minutes with the ferry to get to Isla Mujeres, a small paradise island with white sand beaches and swinging palm trees.

Day1. At 06.00 we rubbed the sleep away from our eyes, had a light breakfast consisting of toast, honey, bananas, fresh mango and mango juice. It took us 5 minutes with the golf car to get to the harbor where an American classic deep sea fishing boat was waiting for us. The captain made way to open sea as sun shined and the wind blew through my hair.  The whale shark lookout was stationed on top of the captain´s cabin. After about 2 hours he saw the first white spotted dorsal fin, cleaving the water. It was a whale shark. Everybody wanted to get a closer look at it but at the same time I thought, if there is one there will be more. So we continued. Just of a sudden the captain called out “Hold on”, the outboard motors rumbled and the vessels speed increased significantly. Further out we could see several fins as they increased in numbers. We were soon surrounded by about 100 sharks. The happiness spread among everybody onboard, what a magnificent sight. The water was full of big mouths some got close to the boat. The wale sharks were swimming on the surface with theirs jaws wide open so they could catch as many fish eggs as possible at the same time as they filter the water.  After snorkeling for a few hours we enjoyed our lunch on deck while the whale sharks continued partying on fish eggs.

Day 2. I wonder if we would have the same luck today or was yesterday a one-off-event? But also today the captain called out “Hold on”. Everybody glared at each other, because now we knew the meaning of “Hold on”. The boat increased in speed, this time we took off in a different direction and once more we got the opportunity to be in the middle of a big group of intrusive and feeding whale sharks.

Day 3. After a good night sleep, our batteries were charged 110%. Today as the other 2 days we got a “Hold on” from the captain and soon we found a big group of feeding whale sharks but we also spotted something big and white at the surface. It was a manta. The white was its stomach. They circle around to gather as many fish eggs as possible. Sometimes they were just a few centimeters away from us.  It was a magical feeling to be this close to these sea giants with a wing span of 4 meters. More mantas arrived whilst we were there to feed one after the other. Over the years when diving in several waters I have never experienced mantas this close and so many. Unbelievable! I never wanted to get out of the water.  Back on deck we really earned the Civiche which was raw fish marinated in lime, coriander, onion and tomatoes. The service onboard was exemplary, whale sharks swimming around the boat and the mantas jumping in the air, landing with a big splash. This had been another unique day with new experiences for all of us.

Day 4 and 5. Both days we spent snorkeling with the whale sharks and mantas. We also had a surprise because when we were on the surface photographing mantas somersaults beneath us a group of mobulus suddenly passed by. What a surprise, what a day!

A big thank you to Scuba Travel and Keen International for making this journey into an unforgettable adventure and finally I would like to thank everyone in the trip for making it such an enjoyable time and like me never wanted to leave the water.

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