It would be great if the first picture of this blog was an awesome photograph of a Whale Shark. Sadly, I cannot show a picture of a Whale Shark because despite six dives over three days, I did not see a Whale Shark. I am not alone in my lack of Whale Shark sighting, for as far as I know, no Whale Sharks were encountered by any of the hundreds of divers who went to Belize in April.
During the months of April, May and June, just before and after the full moon, Whale Sharks visit an area about 30 miles east of Placencia Belize called the Gladden Split. This area is a breeding ground for Black and Cubera Snappers and Whale Sharks arrive during the full moon to feed on their eggs. Dozens of websites describe this feeding season and detail how the Whale Sharks arrive like clockwork just before the full moon and are present for up to three days after the full moon. PADI, the world’s leading SCUBA diver training organization ranks Placencia as one of the ten best places in the work to see Whale Sharks.
While the Gladden Split is renown for diving with Whale Sharks, apparently over fishing in the area has greatly disrupted the food supply for the Whale Sharks and in the past few years the amount of Whale Shark sightings in the area has diminished to zero in April. According to the Captain of my dive boat as little as five years ago they would see dozens of Whale Sharks during the feeding season. Now he is lucky is he sees one. He is extremely concerned about his livelihood as Whale Shark season meant full dive boats and significant revenue (SCUBA diving was approx. $275 a day for two dives and gear rental).
The Belize tourism industry has been very slow to publish the disappearance of Whale Sharks. I met visitors from as far away as Denmark who were extremely disappointed about the lack of sightings. I was frustrated about the lack of Whale Shark sightings, but even more sad about the impact that humans are having on this majestic animal. One of the reasons why I feel compelled to travel and write about my travels is to see animals in their natural environment before it is destroyed and hopefully draw a bit of attention to some of the problems. Here, I can find nothing online on the diminishing Whale Shark spotting in Belize.
Belize is beautiful and this was my second trip to Belize in the last year. I love the diversity of Belize from the Mayan Ruins to the beaches. So, if you choose to go to Belize to dive with Whale Sharks, plans to see other things while you are there or you may be disappointed and fins yourself staring into the blue abyss hoping a Whale Shark is nearby.
Finally as a quick tip you will notice the Dive Plus logo on the first image. Dive Plus is a great app that automatically color corrects dive pictures saving tons of time in Lightroom. The app is free but costs a few $ if you want pictures without watermarks.