Swimming and Snorkeling with Whale Sharks:
Whale sharks are the largest known fish in the world, they visit the Sea of Cortes during normally predictable seasons, from June to December, they show up in San Luis Gonzaga and Bahía de los Ángeles.
Tourists can Swim and snorkel around them, as long as they comply with applicable regulations imposed by the Mexican Government, to protect them.
Only operators certified and approved by the Federal Government can approach whale sharks, who in turn are obligated to educate tourist on the applicable rules and regulations.
Relevance of Bahía de los Ángeles for Whale Sharks.
Whale Sharks can be seen in Baja California Eastern coast from June to December. Notwithstanding their size, they are peaceful animals that mean no harm to humans. Because of their size and feeding habits they are commonly known as Whale Sharks (Rhincodon Typus, Smith 1828). Bahía de los Ángeles is one of the few world sites where whale sharks gather. Coast line shape, wind patterns that promote water column mixing and the high productivity of Canal de Ballenas, make Bahía de los Ángeles an attractive habitat, where the specie meets seasonally.
To protect them, the following rules and regulations from the Mexican law apply:
Swimming with whale sharks can only be done while free diving and or with snorkel, it is not permitted to approach the sharks with any type of Scuba Diving gear.
- Harass, or hurt sharks in any way or form, as well as obstruct or block their free transit.
- Exceed the approved capacities of boats.
- Fish, water ski and parachute near or around the Sharks.
- Ride jet Skis, aquatic motorcycles, kayaks, inflatable canoes or observation submersibles, in the areas authorized for Shark Sighting.
- Using any type of propulsion vehicles to swim near whale sharks.
- Drop or pour into the ocean any type of organic waste, solid residues, garbage, oils, fuels, liquid waste or any other type of contaminant.
- Collect, catch, hunt or in any way retain any local wild flora and fauna, as well as introducing any exotic species or transport any live individuals from one location to another.
- Transport any type of animal pets on Board.
- Ride the sharks.
- Touch or handle the sharks.
- Limit or hinder the sharks´ normal behavior.
- Any flash photography, and or swim closer than one meter from the shark´s head or body and two meters from the tail or the tail fin.
- Use tape recorders, loudspeakers or any device that produce noise or sounds that may disturb sharks.
- Sports and recreational Fishing without the permits issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food production, as well as the collection of marine specimens not approved by the Ministry.
- Perform any research and any quantitative registration and quantification and experimentation, without the corresponding authorization by Sagarpa.
It is worth mentioning that Bahía de los Ángeles is Mexico´s only site where whale shark sighting is done inside a Protected Natural Area and where the largest number of individuals can be found in a single day.
It is suggested that swimming and snorkeling be done only from boats approved by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Port Authority.
Approved boats must display a valid banner issued by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, showing a red banner with an image of a Whale Shark (as shown herein following), reference to the area (State) where the boat is approved to operate and a control number issued the corresponding Port Authority.
Bahía de los Ángeles, Scuba diving and whale shark expeditions: