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Snorkeling With a Whale Shark

Whale shark snorkeling in La Paz
Whale shark snorkeling in La Paz
As we said goodbye to our beautiful private camp at Candelero Bay on Espiritu Santo Island, we hoped our adventure wasn't over just yet. Jorge took us for a little tour of the southern part of the island. We pulled into a large, beautiful bay, which also happened to be a frigate bird nesting colony. There were thousands of them in the vegetation along the shore. We slowly motored along, taking pictures and watching them just do there thing. But our real adventure was still ahead of us. Hugo was hoping that we might get a chance to snorkel with a whale shark that morning before heading back to our hotel. So we boated back towards La Paz and were in luck. We saw a boat close to shore in the murky water, with snorkelers in the water. Hugo said that we were only allowed to have one boat snorkeling at a time, so we held back and waited for that group to get back in the boat. Once they did, Jorge brought us close to shore, and then we saw it - a whale shark right next to our boat! I thought he looked huge, but Hugo assured us that he was a juvenile, and they got bigger. Hugo said, "ok" and we all quickly grabbed our snorkel stuff and jumped in the water. Our only instruction was to not touch the shark, and stay away from the tail. They won't hurt you, but their tail is large and strong, and can easily knock you around in the water. 

So we jumped in the water and by the time I got my bearings in the water and put my head under water, all I could see was the tail, just to my right. The water was murky and choppy, and swimming was difficult, but I did my best to try to get to the front-end of the shark. But my swimming wasn't nearly as strong as this massive animal. I swam my heart out, but no matter how hard I tried, I kept looking over at that tail slowly sawing back and forth, right by side. Hugo and Jorge had an eye on us, and after a few more minutes of struggling to get closer to the head of the shark, I gave up. I swam back to the boat and got in. Hugo said as soon as we got in the water, he was on the move. He had clearly had enough to eat in this spot and wanted to get to a new spot. There was no way I was going to catch that thing! But what an experience it was! I never thought I would willingly jump into the ocean with an active, massive shark, but this gentle, kind fish could care less about us.

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