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