Diving with whale sharks in Belize is one of the most rewarding experiences when you are diving in the Caribbean. Join an award winning project and become part of an active research team. Learn to dive or further your skills while doing hands-on conservation projects!
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, they grow up to 14m (46ft), weighing up to 15 tons! They are migratory creatures and it has been estimated that they may live up to 100-150 years old! They eat plankton and small fish and are harmless to people.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Belize attracts one of the largest concentrations of whale sharks in the world. Whale shark season/migration in Belize runs March-June; however, we do spot them year-round. The presence of the whale sharks is dependent on the health of the spawning fish aggregations. ReefCI actively participate in working on the spawning fish in the area.
Like many of its shark relatives, whale sharks are in decline and they may soon face extinction if we don’t act now. Whale sharks’ gentle nature makes them an easy fisheries target for meat and fins, highly valued in the international shark fin trade.
The Whale Shark & Marine Conservation Project engages divers and snorkelers in whale shark data collection efforts in partnership with the UK based Shark Trust. The Whale Shark Sightings Database allows volunteers to report their sighting information online. This public, photo identification database supports photo and sighting data comparisons by scientists, researchers, and others interested in preserving this vulnerable species. Photographic identification is a powerful non-invasive technique for studying shark life histories and movement in their natural environment. This is especially important for a highly migratory species like the Whale Shark.
Nobody can guarantee a Whale Shark encounter however; if you are lucky enough to experience a Whale Shark you must record as much information as possible, and take photos (without a flash). Displaying a myriad of pale blue spots and stripes, each whale shark has its own unique pattern. Divers and snorkelers are asked to photograph and make notes about each whale shark’s individual skin pattern, size and other identifying factors. Following each sighting, divers will be asked to submit the sightings data and images to an online database.