March 3, 2016

Whale Shark Trips

Swim with whale sharks in La Paz, BCS, Mexico whilst directly contributing to the conservation of this endangered species

La Paz Bay is home to a seasonal feeding aggregation of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus.

Just minutes from the city it is possible to locate and swim with these gentle giants on the surface using basic snorkeling equipment.

Join a marine biologist on a trip to swim with the whale sharks in their natural habitat in La Paz Bay where you will learn about the biology, life history and conservation status of this endangered species whilst directly supporting their conservation.

Enjoy a responsible and 100% wild interaction with whale sharks.

You will have an unforgettable experience!

All proceeds are used by the project for:

  • Trip expenses:

We use a seven meter Panga boat, which allows a maximum of 6 – 7 guests on board. We have another larger boat for groups up to 14 people. The guide and captain are both government certified whale shark tour operators. Our tour guides are marine biologists / naturalists and have first aid and water rescue training.

  • Contribution to scientific research:

During the whale shark trip, you will have the opportunity to witness how we collect data to contribute to global scientific research. Where possible, we collect photos of each individual whale shark we encounter and share them to the world’s largest global database of whale shark sightings, The Wildbook for Whale Sharks.

  • Community awareness and educational activities:

Whale Shark Diaries has a project called ‘Environmental education for kids initiative’. We visit local schools, colleges and orphanages here in La Paz, with the goal of raising awareness regarding environmental conservation, plastic pollution and threats to the local whale shark populations.

WHALE SHARK TOUR

Trip Duration: 2 or 3 hours depending on the time of year and location of sharks. – other trip lengths are available on request

Start Time: 9:00am – other times are available on request, however early afternoon trips are weather dependent.

$79.00 usd per person for 3 hour trip – Includes mask, snorkel, and fins.

Location/Meeting Place: Muelle Fiscal/Fiscal Pier on the Malecon.

Season: October 1 – April 30 (there are no whale shark trips in La Paz outside of this season)

Who can join the trip: anyone can join our trip. People who want to enter the water with the whale sharks must know how to snorkel and swim. People that do not want to enter in the water can stay on the boat and enjoy the whale sharks while watching them swimming or feeding on the surface. Families are welcome on our boat as well! If your kids are capable of swimming and snorkeling they can join us in the water to observe these beautiful animals (we can provide life jackets for children). However, please always ensure that you or your partner are always directly supervising your child/children at all times during the tour.

If conditions allow, the team will try to take PHOTOS and VIDEOS of you when swimming with these animals. These will be FREE OF CHARGE. We cannot guarantee the quality of photos and videos as visibility and opportunity vary.

HOW ABOUT COMBINING YOUR WHALE SHARK TRIP WITH A VISIT TO A SEA LION COLONY AT SAN RAFAELITO?

WHALE SHARKS, SEA LIONS and BALANDRA BEACH TOUR 

Trip Duration: 4 to 5 hours – Longer trips are available on request.

Start Time: 9:00am – other times are available on request.

What to expect: the first stop is in the whale shark area, for roughly 2 hours, where you can swim and observe these gentle giants. We will then proceed to San Rafaelito, where you will meet the friendly sea lions. Here you will also have the opportunity to snorkel around the young coral reef! Our last stop is Balandra Bay, a series of wonderful sandy beaches well known for its crystal clear turquoise water and the home of mushroom rock.

$125.00 USD per person Includes mask, snorkel, and fins.

Because this trip is extended to around five hours, we also include a ceviche lunch on a paradise beach.

Location/Meeting Place: Muelle Fiscal/Fiscal Pier on the Malecon.

Season: October 1 – April 30 (there are no whale shark trips in La Paz outside of this season but the sea lions are open year-round)

Who can join the trip: anyone can join our trip. People who want to enter the water with the whale sharks must know how to snorkel and swim. People that do not want to enter in the water can stay on the boat and enjoy the whale sharks while watching them swimming or feeding on the surface. Families are welcome on our boat as well! If your kids are capable of swimming and snorkeling they can join us in the water to observe these beautiful animals (we can provide life jackets for children). However, please always ensure that you or your partner are always directly supervising your child/children at all times during the tour.

If conditions allow, the staff will try to take PHOTOS and VIDEOS of you when swimming with these animals. These will be FREE OF CHARGE. We cannot guarantee the quality of photos and videos as visibility and opportunity vary.

View our promo video here …..

 OTHER TYPES OF TOUR

All of our trips contribute to the conservation of the species and habitats that we visit.

Depending on the number of people available, we can organize different types of trips which can include:

  • Releasing sea turtles back into the ocean: Only 30 minutes on the outskirts of Cabo San Lucas, it is possible to release baby sea turtles into the wild whilst learning about the biology and conservation status of these threatened animals.
  • Scuba diving in Cabo Pulmo: This area is famous for its coral reef which has been protected since 1995, when it was proclaimed Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park.
  • Scuba diving or snorkeling at Los Islotes and Isla Espiritu Santo: Scuba dive with playful sea lions, visit one of several shipwrecks, dive on healthy coral reef.
  • Scuba diving or snorkeling at La Reina: Just 180 minutes boat ride from La Paz, La Reina is seasonally visited by aggregating Pacific giant manta rays
  • We are open to suggestions. If there is something you really want to do, contact us and we can see what we can arrange.

More info.

Sustainable wildlife tourism raises awareness about threatened species

La Paz Bay lies within the western Gulf of California (aka. Sea of Cortez) and is situated on the south-eastern coast of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. The bay is an important seasonal shelter and feeding aggregation area for a population of juvenile whale sharks.

The whale sharks visit the site at predictable times of the year, typically between September and May. Sometimes the sharks return annually to the area, however each year is considerably variable. It is believed that some individuals may reside here year-round, taking full advantage of the protection from predators and enjoying the plankton-rich water. The population feeds close to the city of La Paz in the shallows along the mogote, a large sand spit that forms a natural harbour protecting the inner-most part of the bay.

Just 45 minutes into the bay, another aggregation of whale sharks occurs. Located around Espiritu Santo Island, several pregnant sharks can be found from May through June. Very little is known about their movements or where they give birth.

The presence of both juvenile and pregnant whale sharks suggests the importance of the La Paz region to this species.

La Paz emerged as a popular whale shark tourism destination in 2007. Since then, the industry has provided an alternative livelihood to commercial fishermen by providing sustainable jobs as tour guides or boat operators.

ws-from-boat-2000pxCurrently, restrictions to the number of permits issued allows for tourism to stay within the carrying capacity of the population of sharks. A community vigilance committee authorised by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) is in place to monitor the activity and report any negative tourism practices back to the authorities.

In order to secure sustainability of the industry, it is necessary for continued research into whale shark behaviour and population dynamics. Further study of the surrounding tourism industry and other habitat functions are vital to the survival of the species.

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