Swim with whale sharks in Gladden Spit, Belize!
Belize’s Gladden Spit in Placencia, Stann Creek was recently highlighted by popular travel publication, Afar Magazine, as one of the best destinations on planet earth, to dive with whale sharks, the gentle giants of the shark kingdom.
Whale sharks, despite their size which can measure as much as 60 feet and weigh as many as 15 tons, are filter feeding fish that consume plankton from the ocean’s floor. They are incredibly docile and pose no threat to humans, hence the reason so many divers enjoy swimming with the mysterious shark whose species originated about 60 million years ago.
Sadly, the gentle whale sharks are an endangered species and there are few places to dive in and see these incredible whale-sized fish in their natural habitats. Whale sharks spend their time in warm tropical waters, searching the seabed for some grub.
Gladden Spit, which is located 26 miles east of popular beach destination Placencia, is one of the most unique places to dive with the docile sharks. The boat ride is approximately an hour and a half and the dazzling shades of turquoise blue in the sea along the way is breathtaking.
See also: Belize Whale Shark Diving Vacations
The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve is known for its rich aquatic ecosystem and is home to many different tropical fish including the cubera, mutton and dog snapper which produce tons of spawn which swim in large schools. The fish spawn around the fool moon to last quarter between the months of March and June. This attracts the whale sharks to the area and divers have a rare opportunity to swim with the awe-inspiring giants of the ocean.
After feasting on the milky clouds of eggs near the surface for about 10 days following the full moon, the whale sharks descend back into the deep. This area, located about 25 miles off the coast, is a snorkeler’s paradise; it was declared a protected site almost 20 years ago. The ocean floor in the reserve area is also flush with colorful reef critters, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and manta rays.
Gladden Spit is just one of many amazing diving destinations in Belize, as the country is also home to the world-famous Great Blue Hole. World-renowned explorer Jacques Cousteau famously dived the unknown depths of the Blue Hole and declared it one of the top five scuba-diving destinations in the world.
The country is also home to the second largest barrier reef in the world and has made great strides toward protecting its ocean environment from offshore oil exploration with a moratorium passed last year on all offshore exploration
Belize recently introduced a law to phase out the use of plastic and Styrofoam utensils by 2019 as part of its initiative to maintain a healthy reef.