Another fabulous Isla Mujeres whale shark
trip! You can't beat this formula: fly in, meet the guests,
sleep, have a nice breakfast, jump on the boat, chat for
about an hour while heading to the whale shark grounds, swim
with hundreds of whale sharks, have a bite to eat, swim with
hundreds more whale sharks, chat for another hour and then
disembark in time for happy hour. Repeat daily and then fly
It kinda sounds too good to be true but
that is exactly how it was this year. During eight days at
sea we only had one really slow day. There were still a
handful of whale sharks at the surface but we were so spoilt
that we decided to go snorkeling on a nearby reef instead.
The other seven days were fantastic.
Check out this great video by Andrew
Adams and Barbara Rocci:
It wasn't just that there were plenty of
sharks. The conditions this year were absolutely amazing! It
was a real treat swimming all day with whale sharks in flat,
calm, crystal clear, blue water.
To be fair, I have been running this trip for
four years and its almost always good. We have never had a
problem with storms or high winds when we are swimming with
whale sharks but this year's calm seas allowed me to nail
all sorts of shots that I have not been able to achieve in
previous seasons. For example, I snapped hundreds of
split frame (over/under) shots that are usually quite
challenging in the open ocean. This year they were almost
When I got bored with shooting splits, I
concentrated on double shark splits. When I had enough of
those in the bag, I even tried to capture triple shark
splits. Maybe the image shown below is not one of my best
compositions from the trip but it certainly gives you an
idea of how many sharks were present.
On some days we also bumped into schools of
cownose rays and a few
Caribbean manta rays. Some guests reported seeing sailfish including a small group of pint sized juveniles. I
am not sure why sailfish sometimes mingle with the whale
sharks because they definitely don't feed on the tuna eggs
that the whale sharks are vacuuming up. Sailfish are more
commonly seen here during the winter and early spring when huge shoals of
sardines migrate along the coast of the Yucatan. If you are
looking for a fast paced, high seas adventure, a
Sailfish Bait ball
Diving Expedition is hard to beat.
We encountered one brave manta that fed among
the whale sharks for hours and was not shy around the
On week two, some of us took a day off from
whale sharks and dove a distant reef named Manta Valley. It
was a lovely vibrant reef that reputedly has manta cleaning
stations but no mantas showed up while we were there. Even
without the stars of the show, Manta Valley is a lovely
place to spend a day. I had no idea that such healthy reefs
still existed within range of Cancun. I consider Manta
Valley good enough to warrant another visit next year so if
you're keen to give it a try, you can sign up for a combined
Whale Shark Snorkeling /
Manta Valley Diving Expedition instead of
spending your whole vacation in the company of whale sharks.
We timed this year's trip to coincide with
the full moon. Some people say it is critical for good
whale shark encounters and some say it makes no difference. I'm
undecided but it certainly appeared to help this year.
Towards the end of the trip there were so many sharks that
they kept getting in each other's way.
All in all it was a wonderful two weeks. One
of our guests commented that on his last day he counted 400
close encounters with whale sharks. That equates to one
whale shark encounter every 45 seconds for five hours. Maybe
thats a new record :)
season of whale sharks with Andy exceeded all expectations.
I chose Andy because he is a true expedition leader, not a
tour guide. If you are there to enjoy and participate with
the sharks he is your guy. We arrived on site before the
other boats and remained afterward to have "alone time" with
them. On one day alone I counted over 400 shark encounters.
Another reason for choosing Andy was for me to discuss his
other wonderful adventures. I am now trying to narrow down
the next location from his many wonderful choices. And I am
not ruling out returning to see these graceful sharks. The
only way to go enjoy these sharks is with Andy and his team.
Ed Downing, New Orleans, Louisiana.
experience with big fish expeditions, great experience. Will
be back for other trips. Good accommodation and great boat
crew. Amazing experience with the whale sharks.
Senevilay Malichanh, Montreal, Canada.
This was our
first trip with Big Fish Expeditions but it certainly won't
be our last! Everything was professionally organized and
handled, from early communications to transportation to and
from the airport (which involved vans, ferries, and taxis,
so it was by no means a simple endeavor), to the local boat
captains and guides. Of course nothing is guaranteed when
you're talking about wild animals, but the Big Fish team did
everything they could to ensure amazing encounters. We swam
with more sharks than we could have imagined! Once you're
out on the water and see how other operations run their
trips, you'll be VERY glad to have chosen Big Fish. We spent
so much more time with the sharks than we would have with
one of the day boats, and our small group was perfect. No
"cattle boat" feeling on this trip! Not to mention that we
got a treasure trove of information about sharks, mantas,
whales, and other marine creatures from Andy and other
guides. We also did the add-on Manta Valley dive and highly
recommend it to certified divers. We were worried about
missing a day with the whale sharks, but we had so many
encounters on the other days that in the end it wasn't an
issue at all. Whether you see mantas or not, it is a unique
experience to go to such a pristine site that is not
regularly frequented by divers. All in all, this trip truly
exceeded our expectations. We can't recommend it highly
Barbara Rocci, USA.
professional underwater photographer, I was thrilled with my
recent trip to Isla Mujeres and time in the water with the
whale sharks. Thank you so much for all the time and effort
put into planning and leading the trip through Big Fish
Expeditions! The accomodations were wonderful! The charter
boat crews were helpful and the best at locating the whale
sharks and, most importantly, giving us so much time with
them in the water! The entire experience was everything and
more that I expected! I look forward to future trips with
both of you!
Applecorps Photography, Jupiter FL
Whale sharks 2015 in Isla Mujeres was a
trip of a lifetime. We fell in love with the island, and
could not believe the accessibility to the huge numbers of
whale sharks. We usually have mediocre luck with adventure
trips but this one delivered big time! Once all the
splash-N-dash operators left the area it was not unusual to
be the only boats on the 100+ sharks. Day 1 had an estimated
200 sharks! It was also not unusual to have to get out of
the way of an oncoming shark while swimming with another
one. Once everyone on the boat agreed, and only when
everyone had had their fill, we'd return to the magnificent
beach on the island and relax at one of the beachfront bars
drinking inexpensive (but not weak) frozen beverages and
tell stories of the day's activities. The village at Isla
Mujeres is home to many charming shops, bars, restaurants,
street vendors, and great local inhabitants easily within
walking distance. We had a terrific time, and as was the
plan, the experience will be one that will stay with me as
long as I live. Thanks Andy, for the great trip!
Don Hyde, Andros, Bahamas.
OF THE PROCEEDS FROM BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS
He has photographed and dived with more sharks than most
people on this planet and he's very good at it.
Andy's images and shark stories have appeared in hundreds
of books and magazines around the world from titles as varied as
Canadian Geographic, Scuba Diving, FHM, Digital Photography, and
the Journal of Zoology.
Andy is the Creator of the ever expanding
Shark and Ray Field
Guide on Elasmodiver
When not running big animal expeditions or on
photographic assignments, Andy lives and dives on Vancouver Island,
Andy is also the driving force behind
the PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT
which shines a spotlight on many endangered species of sharks and
rays that are largely overlooked by mainstream conservation groups.
Predators In Peril is entirely funded by Big Fish Expeditions.