During the months of March, April, May, and June around the full moon, giant whale sharks can be seen at the Gladden Split Marine Reserve in Placencia Belize.
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish with a length of 41.50 feet and a weight of more than 47,000 lbs. They can be seen in the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve in Placencia Village which is known to host large concentrations of whale sharks when Mutton and Dog snappers are spawning (whale sharks ingest the spawn as food).
Despite its enormous size, whale sharks do not pose any significant danger to humans. In f act, they are actually quite gentle and can be playful with divers or snorkelers.
The whale shark’s gentle nature makes swimming with them a special treat for divers and snorkelers and their curiosity even pulls fishing parties into its thrall when the huge sharks pull up alongside fishing boats.
Although 3 or 4 days before and after the full and new moons in April and May are the best times to interact with the whale sharks, they are often sighted through the summer months as well.
Come explore the incredible world of the whale sharks in Belize and have the experience of a lifetime.
General Information About Whale Sharks
The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest extant fish species.
The largest confirmed individual had a length of 41.50 ft and a weight of more than 47,000 lbs and there are unconfirmed reports of considerably larger whale sharks. Claims of individuals over 46 ft long and weighing at least 66,000 lbs are not uncommon.
The whale shark is the sole member of the genus Rhincodon and the family, Rhincodontidae (called Rhiniodon and Rhinodontidae before 1984), which belongs to the subclass Elasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes. The species originated about 60 million years ago.
The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, as filter feeders they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, which are microscopic plants and animals. However, the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish. The same documentary showed footage of a whale shark timing its arrival to coincide with the mass spawning of fish shoals and feeding on the resultant clouds of eggs and sperm.
The species was distinguished in April 1828 after the harpooning of a 4.6 metres (15.1 ft) specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. Andrew Smith, a military doctor associated with British troops stationed in Cape Town, described it the following year. The name “whale shark” comes from the fish’s physiology, being as large as many whales and also a filter feeder like many whale species.