Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the Ocean reaching lengths of 40 feet (12 meters) or more. The whale shark has a mouth which can be up to 5 foot (1.5 meters) wide and has an average weight of 20.6 tons. Lucky for us this gentle giant feeds on plankton. Swimming side by side with a whale shark is one of our top wildlife encounters that probably should be on your bucket list. Whale sharks populate all tropical seas. There currently have been 12 places identified around the world where whale sharks congregate. At some places you can see whale sharks all year long and others you only have a short season to find them in bigger numbers. The largest known gathering of whale sharks is off the Yucatan in Mexico. Different locations have a variety of regulations. At some places you can go scuba diving whereas others only allow snorkeling. If you decide to go on a swimming with whale shark adventure make sure to look for a reputable company to ensure tours are conducted in the least impacting way for these amazing animals.
Whale Sharks Around the World
Below we have mapped out the locations where you can swim, snorkel or scuba dive with whale sharks.
Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Whale sharks arrive to feed between mid-March and July following a mass coral spawning. The peak time is around May.
When: April - July
The largest island in the Indian Ocean archipelago, Mahé is the best place to spot whale sharks. Whale sharks migrate past Mahé between August and November. Sightings are usually peaking in October.
When: August - November
Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti
Although Whale Sharks can be seen throughout the year, encounters are especially common from October to February.
When: October - January
Al-Lith, Saudi Arabia
A juvenile whale shark aggregation site in the Red Sea has been discovered recently. Hundreds of juvenile whale sharks gather around coral reefs near Al-Lith, a town on the central coast of Saudi Arabia.
When: March - June
Belize Barrier Reef, Belize
A mass fish-spawning period between March and June draws whale sharks to Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. Tours are usually going out for 10 days after the full month during the season from March to June.
When: March - June
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
There are several places of the Yucatan peninsula to swim with whale sharks. This is probably one of the largest known aggregation of whale sharks anywhere in the world.
When: May - September
Al Shaleen Oil Field, Qatar
The floating oil platforms off the coast of Qatar in the Al Shaheen Oil Field are a reoccurring stop for hundreds of whale sharks to the surprise of many researchers. In 2007 a Oil offshore worker capture an image of over 100 while sharks swimming around a platform in 2007. Since then researchers have been able to identify over 400 whale sharks in this region.
Ari and Baa Atoll, Maldives
Whale sharks are year-round residents of the Maldives.
When: May - December on the western side; December - April on the eastern side
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Darwin and Wolf Islands are where the liveaboard boats go to for a Whale Shark experience. Strong currents make this region unsuitable for beginners.
When: June - November
Donsol, Luzon, Philippines
Donsol is a popular spot to find whale sharks. They generally arrive between November and June, peaking from February to April. Only snorkeling is allowed in Donsol Bay, although it is possible to dive with them in nearby areas.
When: November - June
Oslob, Cebu, Philippines
Whale shark watching in Cebu started in 2011, 10 km away from the center town of Oslob. There has been some controversy about swimming with whale sharks in Oslob because of how the whale sharks are being treated (fishermen feeding them and touching them) although some restrictions supposedly have been implemented recently.
When: Year Round
Honda Bay, Philippines
Honda Bay is further south of Donsol and still less known for Whale Sharks. Dive shops are able schedule a tour, also local guides take visitors in traditional outrigger bangkas to spot whale sharks.
When:April - November for calmer sea
Tofo Beach, Mozambique
Tofo beach is 400km north of Maputo and is home to one of the largest concentrations of whale sharks in Africa.
When: November - April
Utila is one of the few locations were Whale Sharks can be spotted every month. The highest concentration of Whale Sharks arrives between March and April. Honduras is one of the cheaper places to go diving.
When: Year Round
Richelieu Rock, Thailand
Richelieu Rock is the best dive site in Thailand, and offers the best chance to see a Whale shark.
When: February - May
If you know of any other places to see whale sharks please comment below or send us photos of your own whale shark experience!