SAN DIEGO, Aug. 6, 2019– The largest fish on Earth is the harmless whale shark. This gentle giant can grow to 60 feet long on a diet of algae, plankton and krill. There are only a handful of places on the planet where annually whale sharks make predictable appearances to feed. One such site is just a two and a half hour plane ride from San Diego, CA, with Baja AirVentures (http://www.bajaairventures.com/).
Bahia de los Angeles, just 300 air miles from San Diego, offers the closest whale shark experience to North America. The spectacle of migrating whale sharks is the main attraction in late summer and fall when water temperatures off the eastern coast of Baja Peninsula hover between an inviting 80F and 82F. From August through October whale sharks migrate to the nutrient-rich waters of the Midriff Island region in the Sea of Cortez, home to Las Animas Wilderness Ecolodge. Here the lodge provides opportunities to for guests to observe and swim alongside these docile creaturesas they feed. This can be a life-changing experience.
Baja AirVentures flies its guests by private air carriage from Brown Field in San Diego to the remote Mexican fishing village of Bahia de los Angeles (population 800). Boats shuttle guests another hour south to Las Animas Lodge situated off the grid on a private, turquoise cove rimmed by a mile-long crescent beach.
The self-sustaining, solar-powered retreat offers eight well-appointed beachside yurts with in-room solar shower and composting toilet, twin and king-size beds with comforters and high thread-count linens, and covered patios with hammocks. Lodging is built around a centrally located palapa with a large attached patio that serves as kitchen, central dining area, cantina bar and communal lounging and game area.
Adhering to established international guidelines, guests may spend up to five hours daily observing and snorkeling with whale sharks that feed close to the surface. Other outings are planned to explore isolated islands and coves frequented by up to 10 species of whales (including fin, orca and blue whales), as well as dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles and manta rays. Hiking, kayaking, sailing and fishing round out the remainder of the time at Las Animas.
"There are people who travel the world over looking to snorkel with whale sharks,” says Baja AirVentures founder and president Kevin Warren. “We've had folks who have gone on our trips who also have been to Australia, Philippines, Thailand, and other known places whale sharks congregate, but they had not yet had the good fortune to swim with them. But here they accomplished that goal. Over the last 10 consecutive years, every one of our trips had successful whale shark encounters, sometimes up to as many as 6 sightings in one outing."
Whale sharks can also be encountered during specific times of the year in the waters of Mexico's Yucatan (Isla Holbox), Honduras (Utila), Western Australia (Ningaloo Reef), Belize (Gladden Spit), Philippines (Donsol Bay), Mozambique (Tofo Beach), Seychelles (South Mahé), Thailand (Koh Tao), Maldives (South Ari Atoll), and Galapagos, Ecuador (Puerto Ayora).
Whale sharks live in all tropical and warm temperate seas but roam the oceans generally alone. However, large numbers will gather in areas with abundant plankton. These areas then become prime tourist attractions. The distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans. Whale shark numbers, however, are dwindling. The animal is currently listed asvulnerable on the IUCN Red Listbecause these creatures are hunted for their fins and left to die. Licensed naturalist guides of Las Animas are careful to follow accepted rules of engagement to minimize any negative impact on the animals during their interactions in and above water.
Operating year-round as an all-inclusive, award-winning eco-adventure lodge, Las Animas offers six-day whale shark programs from August into late October, departing San Diego on Monday and returning the following Saturday. All-inclusive programs run $2,995 per person, double occupancy (plus tax). The rate includes round-trip flight from San Diego, accommodations, all meals, beverages, guides, equipment and land and boat transportation.
Weeks during the 2019 season that still have good availability include; Aug.19–24, 26–31; Sept. 2–7, 9–14, 24–30; Oct. 7–12, 14–19 and 21–26.
For questions, reservations and additional details on the whale shark program please call 1.800.221.9283 or visit: https://www.bajaairventures.com/bajawhaleshark/.
For information on all of the vacation packages offered year-round by Baja AirVentures please visit: http://www.bajaairventures.com/.
Enjoy these short videos on whale shark encounters with Baja AirVentures:
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