Slow moving and majestic, whale sharks offer a unique diving experience with an endangered species. They represent no danger to humans and young whale sharks have even been known to voluntarily interact with divers. There are dozens of opportunities to dive with the graceful creatures ranging from Australia to Tanzania. Some of the most popular locales include the following.
The Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage Site that’s home to whale sharks and hundreds of fish species. The best time to visit is March-June and while diving is possible, most excursions are for snorkeling only and a unique site to see.
Just offshore of Placencia is a reliable whale shark hangout. They arrive en masse to take advantage of spawning grounds of Cuberra and Mutton snappers. The best visiting time is just before and after a full moon from March-June.
Darwin’s Arch, Galapagos
Whale sharks are consistently available and some huge adult specimens have been seen. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the whale sharks that come to the island are pregnant females, while the majority of other whale shark gatherings tend to be the male of the species. The area is also home to resident hammerhead sharks, giant mantas, and humpback, pilot, and reef sharks. The best time to visit is June-Dec.
“The Whale Shark Capital of the Caribbean” is known for its extensive sightings at Utila Open Water. The terrain has shallow banks to open ocean and the sharks can be seen year-round, but March-April and Aug.-Sept. are optimal times.
Cenderawasih Bay near Kwatisore has become a focal point for an impressive number of whale shark encounters. Early morning yields the best experiences. The best time to book a trip is June-Oct.
The biodiversity found in the Maldives is impressive and whale sharks can be found year-round, though Dec.-May is the best time. The sharks are relatively small, but the shallow reef provides a safe haven for them to congregate with a ready food source.
The best time and place for whale shark sightings is at Tofo Beach from June-Jan. Divers will also see sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays during their winter migration. Humpback whales have also been sighted.
Afuera is a whale shark hotspot from July-Aug. and sometimes congregate in the hundreds. Diving has been banned, but snorkeling is allowed. Divers can also visit Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, the second-largest reef system in the world with more than 500 species of fish and 100 coral subspecies.
Divers will find whale sharks, a thriving ecosystem, and a myriad of World War II aircraft and ships beneath the surface. Dec.-May is recommended, but divers have reported more success Feb.-April.
Mafia Island is a relatively new and unknown destination for whale sharks. The optimal time to go is Oct.-March. Individuals are limited to snorkeling on whale excursions. Diving is permitted outside of the Marine Park.
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