La Paz, Baja California Sur is one of the few destinations in the world regularly visited by whale sharks. The largest fish on the planet, whale sharks reach over 60 feet long and weighing up to over 20 tons. Despite their size, whale sharks are known locally as the gentle giants. Whale sharks lack teeth, and filter feed like many whales. They spend much of their time just off the coast gleaning plankton and other nourishment from the water. Read on to learn more facts about whale sharks.
For one, the proximity of the whale shark observation zone to downtown La Paz makes it a great place to see whale sharks. From October through April, seasonal north winds push whale shark food into the Bay of La Paz, where it collects just off the narrow band of dunes and mangroves known locally as El Mogote. The whale sharks congregate in this zone (see 2. in the image below), just a 20 minute boat ride from La Paz. Another factor that sets La Paz apart from other destinations is the focus on responsible whale shark tourism. Beginning in 2018, government agencies, researchers, and local service providers began meeting to craft a management plan for responsible whale shark observation. RED’s nonprofit arm, Red de Turismo Sustentable AC works to build awareness and support for the management program through its Whale Shark Ambassadors program.
Whale sharks play an important role in the tourism based economy of La Paz and Mexican law recognizes them as a threatened species. Around the world, whale sharks face threats from fishing, incidental bycatch, and collision with water craft. Make sure you travel with an operator that uses certified captains and guides, and permitted boats. If you see something that’s not right, take pictures and contact environmental authorities.
– Whale sharks can weigh up to 20 tons and reach over 60 ft. in length
– No one has witnessed them give birth or mating
– They can live over 100 years
– Whale sharks are an endangered species
– They can dive to depths of over 1,500 meters
– November-April is the best time to see whale sharks in La Paz
Contact RED Travel for a day outing to snorkel with whale sharks or to create a custom itinerary. Plan ahead and travel responsibly.