Swimming with the Largest Sharks in the World: Video!

There’s a fin at the surface of the water. Coffee in hand, I run to the bow, because I can’t believe it: the largest shark in the world is circling our sailboat!

Slowly circling around and around the boat and our flotilla of boards and dinghy.

Slowly circling around and around the boat and our flotilla of boards and dinghy.


Although whale sharks are the biggest fish on earth, their only real threat is to the plankton in the bay. The can be 45 feet long and 15 tons, and they move at an average speed of 3 miles per hour, scooping and filtering tiny food with their huge mouths. This summer and fall, Bahía de Los Ángeles saw more whale sharks than it had in years, 197 different individuals according to the local biologists who track them. They hung out at the surface on calm mornings in the anchorage next to town, and we would see them when out paddleboarding. One morning we jumped in to swim with one circling our boat–and in the murky water we were surprised at how unnerving it is to wait for a 25 foot shark to appear out of the gloom! I searched the surface of the water as I waited next to the hull, only to look down to see a huge pectoral fin brushing my knee as it passed by just below the surface! Definitely a surprise, but then I joined it on the laps around the boat. We swam close enough to see its eyes but never touching it.

That's a big fin.

That’s a big fin.


Josh caught it all on camera and created this video: he did all of the filming and editing. Enjoy!

Whale Shark Shuffle

3 Responses to Swimming with the Largest Sharks in the World: Video!

  1. David December 11, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Cool! And how does Uly like the whale sharks…?

    David & Michelle

    PS Skiing here at Whistler is great… lots of fresh snow! (El Nino minus 1-3 degrees = snow…)

    • Jess December 15, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      Funny you should mention the dog, Josh made a longer video where a whale shark swam right under Uly and me on the paddleboard, and Uly was just BESIDE himself with excitement. I don’t think he could quite grasp the size, though, since I thought he might want to just jump on the tail. Here’s the other video:

      I don’t miss the cold, but sure miss skiing!!

  2. Janice Bernauer December 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Beautiful video, Josh and Jess!! I loved how the second part starts out with twinkling music and swirling fish, then swirling spots as the whale shark passes!! It’s liquid tranquility!!

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