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isla mujeres whale sharks

Whale Sharks, Whale Sharks and MORE Whale Sharks.

July 16, 2019 - 5:33pm our first day of whale shark diving off Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It was a good but tough day. So many new laws and regulations here, the captains were nervous as hell about it. CONAAP has everyone on their toes and up in arms. So now it is mandatory for everyone to wear life jackets. Even in the water. You can do a one free diver and one guide, but they do not allow for two anymore. Just silly.

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Over all we had an awesome day and despite the headaches of this new law, everyone had a good time. We stayed out as long as we could and everyone had a chance to get some solid whale shark time in. A very good first day. Of course there was so much food in the water that the sharks are feeding on, all my pictures are full of suck. Tomorrow is another day, hoping for patches of blue water for some decent images. Hoping for a coke bottling shark, that is always the best photo opportunities. A static shark that is just filter feeding in one spot.

July 17, 2019 - Day two of our whale shark expedition. We had a really good day - today the whale sharks were all surface feeding and there were a lot of sharks. Of course we are still dealing with the new rules, which are tough, but we will get used to them. A lot of silly bullshit if you ask me. Some of the other boats are asking for some sort of standard across the board service. Basically, they want everyone to act the same. Same crap service they give to tourists and bucket listers, who just want something to do on vacation. Which has nothing to do with the sharks or an appreciation for them.

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They want to end the service some of the better operators provide to people who want to see these sharks and want to spend quality time with these animals. It is horrible, and each year, they think of new rules to try and create more road blocks for the better operators. They even turned down prop guards for their boats, which will help protect the sharks and the swimmers. The excuse they use;  because they do not want to spend the money. It truly shows those operators do not give a shit about these animals. I saw fresh cuts on a whale shark today, just horrible when you know that it can be avoided.

July 18, 2019 - Just got back from day 3 in the water. We decided this morning to put an effort into finding manta rays. Sadly,  we did not find any. Where the hell are they? Last season they were all over the place, yet this season we have not seen any. No one has this week. Last week our captain told us they had a lot of mantas, but so far… goose egg. 

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The action today was good but hard. A lot of sharks but they wanted nothing to do with us. Part of that behavior I am very familiar with. Tomorrow it will be a great day, because the sharks will be feeding hard and they will not care about us. Hoping to find a coke bottling shark. So far I have not seen one yet. Our guests have, thankfully. Yesterday our guests had some decent coke bottling action. I stayed on the boat while they took turns photographing the shark. By the time it was my turn, the shark swam off. Tomorrow - tomorrow is my day.

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The plan tomorrow is to head out a bit earlier than our normal 9 am departure. We are headed to Contoy Island to try and find mantas, and a loggerhead for me. Still need me a loggerhead. Hoping to find a mating pair, which would be epic! The area around Contoy is always a really good spot for manta rays, so hoping to find some for our guests.

Side note; my best friend Tommy arrived here last night, along with my inlaws, and my son Gabriel. Lots of family here with my guests. Love it when my family joins me out here, it always makes travel so much more special.

July 19, 2019 - And it is over. Our time with the whale sharks has ended. It was a good four days of shark diving. No mantas, but damn, where the hell did they freaking go? This was the most stressful week of swimming with these sharks that we have ever experienced. The new rules were hard to deal with, but we made the best of it and figured out how to have an amazing time within the rules and everyone got plenty of water time. Hoping these guys get their shit together and create some rules that make sense for the sharks and the people who want to see them. 

I just did a quick check and it is officially 15 years that I have been running this trip. I have swam with whale sharks now for 15 years in a row, that is so wild. A lot of changes since that first trip. We originally started running these trips off Holbox but we decided to change the location over 10 years ago when the sharks were spending more time near Isla Mujeres then Holbox. It cut travel time by an hour each way. 

I do miss Holbox, especially now that I am big into bird photography, Holbox is a birder’s paradise. But Isla is better for our guests. It is more touristy with a lot more for them to do. 

So we spent the morning seeking out manta rays around Contoy and nada. No mantas… they are just gone this week. Our friend Tracey saw two of them down deep in the whale shark grounds. It was a super brief encounter and that was the best the mantas gave us. We spent all morning looking for them and nothing. About 11:30 we admitted defeat and went to finish up the day with the whale sharks. The sharks were everywhere, lots of feeding sharks AND lots of coke bottling sharks. 

Our guests had a lot of opportunities to photograph these sharks and they all left the water happy. On my final swim of the trip, I followed a slow swimming shark for a short while, when magic happened. She stopped swimming and went vertical. I finally got my coke bottling shark. She allowed me to snap a few images of her, before she decided to start swimming again. I was on fire and so very grateful for these amazing animals and this amazing place. 

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Tonite we will get together for one final group meal together. Going to have dinner by the water to watch the sunset. A perfect way to end this weird but wonderful trip. Thanks to all our friends who joined us, you all are amazing souls. Love you guys.