Meet the whale shark of baja california
Baja California and the Whale Sharks
In Baja California, there are several places where you can spot and experience the thrill of swimming with this gentle fish. Diving and snorkeling with whale sharks is a bright experience, suitable for everyone from children to adults, as it is an experience you will cherish forever.
Whale sharks can easily exceed 10 meters in length and they can weigh several tons. In fact, it is the largest fish that exists. As soon as they are born, they are about a meter long: if you think about it, it is not small. In short, if you come across a 2-3 meter whale shark, you have a puppy in front of you.
Despite their incredible body mass, whale sharks feed exclusively on plankton: small crustaceans and fish, microscopic algae and sometimes squid. Therefore, they are totally harmless to humans.
The Whale Shark
The whale shark appearance is similar to a shark, but the body is wider and flattened on the back, the head is blunt and the mouth is very wide. On average, the whale shark is 10 meters long and it has an average weight of 9 tons.
Authoritative sources estimate that there may be specimens of 20 meters in length and 34 tons in weight. The largest officially registered specimen was captured in Pakistan, near Baba Island near Karachi, and had a length of 12.65 m and a weight of 21.5 tons.
Its skin is among the thickest in the animal kingdom, up to 14 cm thick. Despite the appearance that arouses fear, it is relatively harmless to humans and feeds almost exclusively on plankton, filtering food with its gills.
The two dorsal fins are not very large and are positioned in the back half of the body. The caudal fin is almost symmetrically bilobed, the pelvic fins are located below, while the pectoral fins are quite wide and positioned under the last two gill slits. The skin has small chessboard protrusions highlighted by the livery with white dots on a greenish-blue background that are used as “fingerprints” for the recognition of the specimens. The belly is whitish. The tail has similar lobes (with the upper a little longer).
Great swimmers of the sea
With an open mouth to swallow as much plankton as possible, whale sharks travel enormous distances. They are migratory animals: they go where the plankton goes, which undergoes the influence of the seasons. During these long migrations, these friendly tramps can swim in the ocean for over 13,000 kilometers (they can be followed by satellite). To have a good probability of swimming with them, it is crucial to know their seasonal migration cycle.
Snorkeling with the Whale Shark
Although they are also seen while scuba diving, perhaps the best way to swim with whale sharks is by snorkeling, or apnea. In fact, these great sharks are mostly seen on the surface, so flippers, a mask and a snorkel are enough to spend unforgettable moments with these harmless animals.
A long-lived kind shark
The average age of whale sharks is around 70 years old, although they can easily exceed up to 100 years. As is typical of sharks, they are not obsessed with sex and they tend to reproduce late, around 30 years old.
A Species in Danger
The whale sharks are a vulnerable species and although they are officially protected in many areas of the globe, they are still hunted by humans for their fins – used especially in oriental cuisine.
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