Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Whale of a Shark!

Day 6: Thursday, July 26, 2012
This was a do-nothing day, the first one since we arrived. We had nothing scheduled so Dad and I went shopping and had a very nice meal at a restaurant - I had filet mignon. It was delicious. Nothing more to really say about this day, it was one of rest and we both needed that.

Day 7: Friday, July 27, 2012
I woke up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for the journey to Cancun to snorkel with the whale sharks! It was super early, but I was so excited to have the opportunity to do it. The van picked me up around 6:55 and we were off. It's a long journey, about an hour by car, but we finally got there and got loaded on the boats. 

That was when things took an unfortunate turn for many of us. It takes A LONG TIME to find the whale sharks in the ocean. They tend to congregate together and it seemed we were on the boat forever. In reality, it was about 90 minutes. I do not get sea sick. Ever. This has never been an issue for me. I'm from Oregon after all. Water in all forms is plentiful there - rain, the Pacific Ocean. Water? Please, it's no problem for me. But imagine being on a roller coaster for 90 minutes. That is what this was like. 

Thankfully, I had not eaten breakfast so that when I threw up over the side of the boat, it was only water. Ironic. Water was causing the problem and it's all I had on my stomach. I was not alone. Two others in my boat and some others in the other boats also tossed their cookies (or in my case, water) over the side of the boat. It was rough going. 

BUT!! It was worth it. Swimming and snorkeling with the whale sharks was AMAZING!!! I cannot recommend it enough. The whale sharks are huge and they swim close to the surface so a snorkel is enough to be able to see them. They come very close too, you can literally reach out and touch them. They don't seem to mind the humans being in their "house." They just swim on by, no problem. We were allowed to swim with them three times for about 7-10 minutes each time. I did it twice and opted to just stay on the boat after that and try to calm my stomach.

Just a note - whale sharks could literally eat an entire adult human in one gulp. They are huge and their mouths can span up to four feet wide! Fortunately, they are incapable of biting or chewing. They feed by opening their mouths, distending the jaws and sucking, then closing the mouth while water flows out the gills. They mainly eat plankton and occasionally some fish that might get in the way when they are sucking in the plankton, but they do not feed on humans. They are sometimes known as the "gentle giants" of the sea since they are the world's largest fish, but they are not predatory. 

After everyone was done, we were off to the shore. My stomach was still practicing for a spot on the Olympic gymnastics team so I laid down on the bench in the back of the boat and fell asleep. Unfortunately, I forgot to put sunscreen on because I was feeling so shitty, I just didn't think of it. My legs, arms, hands, face, and neck have been severely burnt. I am a pale person who does not tan. At all. Ever. DOES. NOT. TAN. Yeah. So now I am walking around with a funky looking burn and I'm having a hard time bending my knees, but it was worth it.

Before going back to shore, the boat pulled up and anchored close to the shore and we were allowed to swim in the water. It was no more than 5 feet deep, but it was absolutely beautiful! The water and the palm trees looked like a postcard. I took some pictures of the trees because they literally were postcard worthy shots.  The captain gave us some tortilla chips. They were put on a life vest and tethered to the boat with a rope - our makeshift food bar! They also served shrimp ceviche, which I could not eat since I am allergic to shellfish. But the chips were good and they gave out ham and cheese sandwiches as well so it was bueno!

We then got in the boat and headed back to our dock where we were to catch the van to go back to the hotel. I bought a T-shirt of course. Made it back to the hotel and took a shower and then found my Dad. He had gone diving at the Cenotes while I was communing with the whale sharks. He doesn't like snorkeling so we went our separate ways for Friday activities. 

Day 8: Saturday, July 28, 2012
This has been an easy day for me. Dad went reef diving and my sunburn and I went shopping. I went to the dive shop to collect Dad and we had a nice dinner at La Vagabunda followed by ice cream at Dairy Queen. We headed back to the hotel. I've been napping and watching TV, just unwinding and relaxing. We leave on Monday. I wish I could hang out at the beach forever, but life calls me back. For now.


Karen Peterson said...

I had no idea whale sharks were so mellow. You'd think with all the Shark Weeks I've watched that I would have remembered that!

Thank, Q said...

You got in the water with something big enough to swallow you? You're much more of a daredevil than I'd ever be! I would have been afraid to even go out there with that titan. I'm sure it was an amazing experience though. Especially the food bar!

Lawfrog said...

Karen - I was pretty amazed to learn that whale sharks are so mellow too! It's amazing considering their size, they absolutely could swallow most sea creatures (and people) with no problem, but they don't.

Q - I'm only a daredevil in some ways. I am absolutely scared to death of heights. We've all got something. LOL!

It really was an amazing experience and my Dad is talking about snorkeling with the whale sharks the next time we're in Mexico. He's not much for snorkeling, he prefers scuba, but after seeing the great time I had, he thinks he might try it. So I may be doing it again. This time though I will bathe in sunscreen!