Just offshore from Cancun, Mexico, a new protected biospherenamed Reserva de la Biosfera Tiburón Ballena (Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve)has been named. It is located in front of the north coast region of QuintanaRoo and covers a surface area of 145,988 acres. The marine surface of thisProtected Area guarantees the protection of the region that contains watersrich with organic material. This concentration of nutrients allow for theexceptional presence of species such as mussels, crustaceans, birds and marinemammals, and above all schools of fish, as well as large groups of whalesharks, making it the perfect environment for spotting these gentle sea giantsin their own environment.
Every year, from May to September, divers can get up closeand personal with the biggest fish of the world, by visiting Cancun. It isduring these months that the gentle giants of the ocean prefer thenutrient-filled waters of the northern areas of Holbox, Isla Contoy and CaboCatoche where they feed and mate. The whale shark is unique in that its mouthis located in front of its head, unlike other shark species. This positioningallows the whale shark to feed, normally just below the surface, by simplyopening its mouth and scooping up plankton, literally vacuuming food from thewater.
Locally known as Dominos, whale sharks are dark brown orgrey with white or yellow spots, and a white or yellow underbelly. Their sizeis quite impressive measuring between 15 to 50 feet (5 -16 m) in length andweighing as much as 10 tons, make swimming alongside these species a thrillingexperience. Considered the largest fish in the world, these animals arecompletely harmless and peaceful. Those who wish to experience swimming with thewhale sharks are provided with guidance from industry experts.
Protecting the whale shark has been a priority forgovernment agencies throughout the last few years, making certain themagnificent animals are not harmed and ensuring that they continue to migrateto the area. Local guides have been provided with additional training indeveloping and executing tours that are safe for the whale sharks and touristsalike. In addition, strict rules have been implemented against scuba equipmentbeing used to view the species.
Cancun and Puerto Morelos is home to the second-largestbarrier reef in the world, making a hands-on encounter with the marine worldmore attainable. Whale sharks, dolphins, manatees, manta rays, stingrays andsea turtles are just a few of the marine species you can spot underwateraccompanied by marine staff and experts, such as Biologist Rafael de la Parra,Director of the Project Domino Research sponsored by the Mexican Government, orDr. Roberto Sanchez from Dolphin Discovery in Cancun.
Cancun is located in the northern part of the southeasternMexican state of Quintana Roo. The island of Cancun is in the shape of a “7”and is bordered to the north by the Bahia de Mujeres, to the east by theCaribbean Sea, and to the west by the Nichupte Lagoon. Cancun is Mexico’slargest tourist destination and boasts 146 hotels with a total of 28,808rooms.
For more information, visit the website of the CancunConvention and Visitors Bureau at http://cancun.travel/en/.