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Georgia Aquarium whaleshark dive vs Mexico whaleshark snorkel?

Discussion in 'South Eastern United States' started by qwimjim, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    5,711
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    I haven't done both, but I did isla mujeres a few weeks ago. The whale sharks themselves were great, they were everywhere! They were huge and RIGHT THERE! It is something I'll never forget, that's for sure.

    One big downside to isla mujeres is that (at least the day I went) there was about an hour boat ride out. We were going 40kmh (25mph) in 4-6 foot seas. It was a bit frightening, and induced seasickness even in a guy on our boat who was wearing a scopalomine patch. It was indeed a "gong show with dozens of boats" but that didn't really bother me. It was kind of like a floatilla out in the middle of the ocean. All the captains worked to stay clear of each other as needed. Another downside is that the whale sharks are wild animals and as such are not guaranteed to be around. In 2015 when I went to Mexico in part to see the whale sharks, the creatures did not show.

    So... isla mujeres can be a bit of a gamble both in terms of seas and the creatures themselves. I think the payoff of seeing a ton of whale sharks in the wild was probably worth it. However, the whale shark in Georgia is going to be there for sure and last time I checked there was no hour long boat ride in rough seas to get to it (although I-285 can be interesting:wink:).


    Isla Mujeres also has a great shallow sandy area where many boats drop anchor for lunch. That was also a very nice time, and was included in the cost ($175) for the whale shark boat ride. My understanding is that many of the operators provide lunch at this area and include it in your trip cost. They offered us an opportunity to snorkel somewhere instead of anchoring in the sand but after the waves we all wanted to chill out a bit.


    We were staying on Cozumel so in addition to the $175 we had to pay for the ferry ride. I think it was $19 each way. There was a shuttle van that drove us from the ferry terminal to isla mujeres but that was included in the $175. We tipped the boat people and the van people as well. If you're staying on the mainland you can skip the ferry obviously.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  2. lv2dive

    lv2dive Formerly known as KatePNAtl Staff Member

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake City, FL
    2,726
    1,971
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    I was a volunteer diver at the GA Aquarium for a couple of years and can confirm you are correct.

     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  3. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
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    This was exactly my experience in 2016. The ferry...unless it changed since last year...is $18-$20 round trip. And the beach @ Isla Mujeres is North Beach and is where all the boats go to hang out and party. Our particular tour served us cold beer and fresh ceviche, which we placed on top of life preservers in the water to act as a floating table. And before we anchored on the beach, we were taken to a coral reef a couple hundred yards off shore to snorkel, which being as I was already very seasick I opted out of. The boat ride out to where the sharks were was definitely a flogging and then some. I didn't get sick until we were at our destination and the boat was pitching and rolling on the 6 ft waves. I never actually vomited, but I felt like I wanted to die. Worst seasick I've ever experienced.

    I think the main difference between snorkeling with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres and diving with them in an aquarium is the part where you actually get to be breathing below the surface with them. And likely with a more relaxed setting than a bunch of boats grouped together with 50 other people in the water trying to swim with the same animal you're trying to interact with.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  4. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    223
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    So sounds like georgia aquarium would definitely give a more relaxed and intimate experience, I wonder how big they are in the aquarium, can't find any information on their lengths.. and how they compare to the typical whale shark you would encounter in isla mujeres. their mantas have a 13-16' wingspan, which is considerably smaller than a lot of mantas you would find in the wild
     
  5. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    It depends how big they manage to get before they die and are replaced. (Yes, that was intended to be cynical.) The ones I saw there predated the 2007 deaths of two of them, and I haven't been back since, even though the Georgia Aquarium is just blocks from my residence and I used to be a member, so I couldn't say what size the present whale sharks are. My best recollection is that the two I saw pre-2007 were comparable in size to those I have seen in the wild.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    223
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    So in the end I guess no one's done both? :)
     
  7. Ghosty

    Ghosty Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Thornton, CO.
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    I'm going on a W.S. snorkel trip off Isla Mujeres in a couple of weeks! I'll be sure to report back on that.
     
    chillyinCanada and KathyV like this.
  8. krukster86

    krukster86 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Chicago, IL
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    Just got back from the GA dive experience. Posted up my thoughts in another thread...meh. Spend the money to see them in the wild.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  9. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    223
    28
    28
    Please do!
     
  10. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    223
    28
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    So how was it?
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.

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