Friday, August 22, 2008

The biggest fish in the sea

Many of you know that last year I headed down to Holbox, Mexico on a little adventure with my family and some friends to investigate the whale shark phenomenon there.  Well, it was amazing, to say the least.  Hundreds of whale sharks gather in this area to feed on abundant plankton in the summer.  The fishermen have known about this for ages, but only in the past few years has the word gotten out to the diving community.  Now the sleepy little fishing village on Holbox Island is one of the world's hottest spots for interaction with whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) the world's largest fish.

I headed back down there in July this year to shoot a segment for the upcoming season 2 of Jonathan Bird's Blue World, and conditions were a little windier than last year, but there were a ton of sharks.  Unlike last year, many of the sharks had great schools of fish surrounding them, feeding on the same plankton.  When I got close with a camera, the fish would aggregate tightly underneath the shark, like a big beard.  It made for fantastic pictures and video.

Although you can't scuba dive with the sharks at Holbox, you can snorkel.  And since they are feeding at the surface, snorkeling is actually the best way to interact and film them.  I will never forget looking down the enormous throat of a whale shark as it gorged itself at the surface, with water rushing into its mouth like a huge storm drain!  This will make an incredible segment in season 2!


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