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Off to the open ocean to “swim” with the largest fish on the planet, the Whale Shark. This humongous sea creature can be seen around Holbox Island from June to early September. It can grow up to 40 ft., with an open mouth that can be as big as 5 ft! Even though the guide swore to me that the big fish was just interested in plankton or fish for his meal, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of being in the open ocean with such a big animal.
A short 15 minute boat ride took us to where we finally saw “our shark”. Some of us were ready to jump in the water… actually it was Heidi Meza, one of the trip coordinators… she loves the ocean and everything that lives in it… it was such a joy for her that she actually made me forget for a moment how scared I was. Thanks Heidi!
The guide gave us an explanation of the logistics of the tour and what we could do and not do. At first I was wondering what these tour companies could do to offer the tour in a more sustainable way, as many people think that distracting the natural habitat of these fish doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly.
 
Well, the guide gave us some of the answers.
He said:
1-      You are not allowed to touch the whale shark. (he explained how if everybody started touching the shark, the protection they have on their skin would disappear)
2-     Don’t approach them any closer than 3 ft.
3-     You have to use biodegradable sun block.
4-     If any other tour boat arrives, we are going to take turns to get in the water. (just two people + plus the guide were allowed to swim every time, I didn’t see more than 3 people swimming with the shark at any time)
5-     Don’t swim close to the tail or in front of the shark.
 
I have to say that I was happy with the rules, no complaints.
 
The time for my turn arrived as I sat at the edge of the boat waiting for the guide’s signal (WATER!) to jump in. He gave us the sign and off the boat we went. I saw just part of the big fish on the first attempt, and the second time I saw clearly how big the thing was, and I was content to be with him in the water.  As I got back in the boat, my traveling companions started asking me about the experience and I just couldn’t hold back my tears of joy, excitement and fear. Yes I cried, for the opportunity I had to experience what was an unforgettable highlight in my life.
We came back to Villas Paraiso del Mar, where we enjoyed the turquoise waters and the white-sand beach, to continue with our trip to the Riviera Maya.