mexico

Of whale sharks and memelas

Of whale sharks and memelas

A few years ago on a trip to Cozumel, a fellow diver shared with us over beer and tacos a magical tale of swimming alongside whale sharks – the largest fish in the ocean – off Isla Holbox. We'd never heard of Holbox, but were surprised and thrilled to learn that these magnificent animals come to the Yucatan Channel each summer, and Cancun is but a four-hour flight away. When the inadvertent sighting of a lone whale shark in Raja Ampat threw our group into a frenzy (and exposed the true extent of our trust in friends, Matt), we knew that we just had to take a trip down here...

The whale shark migration is one of the longest documented (published only in April of 2018!), with hundreds of individuals congregating at and returning to a handful of known feeding locations around the world. The northeastern Yucatan is the site of the largest such gathering, attracting an estimated 800 (!) sharks each summer.

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Mexico Trip Part II: Fresh

Mexico Trip Part II: Fresh

Our first stop was at Dos Ojos, the most famous and benign of the caverns. At its mouth we leapt into a pool full of swimmers, and watched from below a macabre yet mesmerizing dance of legs and torsos flailing in the rippling turquoise. In single file we followed the guideline into the cavern proper... Where Cozumel was fast drifts through fields of colors and coral formations, this was a world engulfed by stillness, with only the sounds of our breathing to punctuate the absolute darkness. Glimpses of limestone pillars and boulders, illuminated by our flitting torchlight, only heightened the beautiful terror of its chthonic passageways.

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Mexico Trip Part I: Salty

Mexico Trip Part I: Salty

First day, and we’d already planned an ill-fated morning excursion. Heavy storms had been bearing down upon the Yucatan for about a week, and we woke up to a blinding deluge accompanied by twenty knot winds and violent sea swells. There were no boats going out today. But at the last moment, there was a reprieve and the captain gave the green light. It turned out to be a poorly timed decision for all, and before we got a chance to pick up all the passengers (who were swimming out in neck-high waves to the boat with all their gear) we were again under siege from a fulminant cloudburst. The weather didn’t improve for the rest of the twenty-minute ride and I got progressively more nauseated.

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