Isla Mujeres has year-round appeal, but there’s no question this is one of the most thrilling times of year to visit. That’s because our local waters are currently hosting—as they do every summer—the world’s biggest fish: the whale shark! Your room at Privilege Aluxes gives you the perfect launch pad for appreciating the natural wonder of these gentle giants firsthand.
From May to September or so each year, whale sharks gather along the Yucatan coast to feast on their tiny fodder: shrimp, fish eggs, and the like, which the sharks consume, like baleen whales, by “filter-feeding.” It makes for an almost unrivaled opportunity to observe and swim with these incredible sea-beasts, which actually outsize all other animals except for their apt namesakes.
The Greatest Gathering on Earth
As we wrote about in a previous blogpost, summertime feeding congregations of whale sharks are a tradition in numerous corners of the globe, but the Yucatan’s is the very biggest that scientists have been able to document. We’re talking the better part of 1,000 sharks, most of them males, heading here from far-flung corners of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and open Atlantic. Five years ago, some 420 whale sharks were seen here in one get-together, the largest ever recorded; the titans were all sidling up to the dinner table, so to speak, for a feast of little-tunny eggs.
Up-Close and Personal
Given that kind of local action, it’s no surprise that Isla Mujeres is celebrated as one of the best places in the world to get an up-close look at one of the most magnificent creatures in existence. (There’s even a Whale Shark Festival here.) Just how big can whale sharks grow? Try 40 feet-plus and better than 20 tons—whale-sized indeed! And they’re absolutely unmistakable with their chisel-like heads, wide mouths, slightly humpbacked profiles, and speckled, ridged bodies—not to mention those exceedingly graceful tails that power them, seemingly effortlessly, through the sunny Caribbean depths.
Disposition- and diet-wise, whale sharks are worlds away from many of their toothier cousins. Snorkeling with these huge, passive, plankton-inhaling fish is a life-changing experience, one you can have for yourself through any of the local businesses offering whale-shark cruises and swims this time of year.
We hope you’ll join us at Privilege Aluxes for this year’s whale-shark season. Even when you’re not swimming alongside one of these gargantuan beauties, it’s amazing to look out over the surf—maybe with a cocktail in hand—and imagine them cruising around not far offshore, doing what they’ve done since time immemorial. Here’s to our lovely, local whale sharks!