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The whalesharks of La Paz

We made the journey from Costa Rica via Mexico City to la Paz in a day. On the peninsula of Baja California the second part of our trip would start. Ahead of us: gray whales, sea lions, mobula rays, dolphins and so on and so on. But first: the biggest fish in our seas: the whaleshark.

Baja California and the Sea of Cortez in particular is home to a population of whalesharks. We do not know too much about these animals, but research has made some things clear. First and foremost these animals are known to be the biggest fish in the seas. They feed on some of the smallest creatures in the sea: plankton and other tiny creatures. Feeding on these small creatures their species grows over 12 meter long! Some stories tell of whalesharks of nearly 20m long. So who knows how big they really get?

A congregation of whalesharks appears every year between October and March in the Bahia de La Paz. They arrive to gorge themselves on the microscopic creatures. Research found out that some of these individuals have migrated there all the way from Bahia de Los Angeles (which lies 750km north in the Sea of Cortez!). Pretty impressive, or not?

Although these fish are subject to (often illegal) fisheries around the world, especially for their fins and gillrakers, some improvement is heading their way. Eco tourism for watching these animals is growing quickly as are the regulations for protecting them. We had a wicked trip swimming with these gentle giants.

joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...

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