Spotting a Whale Shark

Apr 06, 2017

Crew, Safari Endeavour

These rocks are very different. This place is very different.

Formed over millions of years of volcanic activity and plate tectonics, the red volcanic tuff looks very similar to the red sandstones found in the Southwest United States. However, the only thing this rock has in common with the southwest is its color.

Rocks on Los Gatos

The smooth rocks near the water line appear look like rolling hills from years of salt water and wind erosion. The tops of the peaks are jagged and rough, mostly untouched by water. Hikers climb up a tiny arroyo to reach a saddle between two high points. The platform looks out of the bay of Puerto Los Gatos and over the Sea of Cortes.

Looking out on the Sea of Cortes

As they reach the top and look down into the gulf, someone spots a large, dark shadow moving slowly northward.

Sunlight hits the shadow and hundreds of white spots are revealed. A radio call comes across and my boat picks it up. “Anyone with a radio, there is a whale shark just below the hikers at the overlook.”

I glance at our driver, Lindsey; we nod at each other and take off. I yell to the passengers, “Hold on to your hats!”

Lindsey makes some radio calls to the guide above us, the rest of us watch where he points in the water. The whale shark reveals itself for a second then takes a dive.

We may have missed our opportunity. I take the moment to have us float there and examine the rock cliffs on our starboard side.

Whale Shark Fin

A guest spots a fin in the water. We take off again! This time the whale sharks lets us follow for over 20 minutes. This whale shark is feeding in an unusual area.

Whale Shark Underwater

We are used to seeing whale sharks in the Bay of La Paz where the water is cloudy with plankton, food for the gentle sharks. The water here is clear. Where is this whale shark headed? We hypothesize about what this shark is doing. Many minutes are spent submerging underwater cameras to snap a shot. Then we just observe and watch and take in this 20-plus foot gentle giant.

Up close whale shark

We’ve been riding alongside the whale shark for so long that we can no longer see the Safari Endeavour.

As if the whale shark knows it’s time for us to turn back, the creature takes a sharp turn and dives right under our skiff, displaying for one last time its massive body.

It’s always such an exciting treat when you run into the largest fish in the world. We were sure to send our thanks to the eagle eyed hikers.

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