The Whale Shark Working group of Placencia, Belize
The Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet and we are fortunate to have these majestic creatures visit Belize for feeding. Gladden Spit, the most easterly point of the Belize Barrier reef is unique in that it is the only place on the planet where the timing for sighting these magnificent creatures is predictable. The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve on the Belize barrier reef off the coast of Placencia is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This attracts the whale sharks to Gladden spit and provides divers, snorkelers and researchers with a rare opportunity for a close up encounter with this gentle giant.
The whale shark working group was established to ensure that the best possible practices are developed and enforced to the benefit of everyone, most importantly the whale sharks.
An NGO known as Southern Environmental Association, SEA (formerly known as Friends of Nature in Placencia) manages whale shark tourism at Gladden Spit with active involvement of national stakeholders. Patty Ramirez, co-owner of Splash Dive Center, is an active member of the Whale Shark Working Group. A set of guidelines to ensure ecologically-sound practices has been developed and followed. All tour guides and boat captains must be Whale Shark Certified and carry their Whale Shark ID in addition to their Tour Guide ID. The guidelines and other information on the Whale Shark Working Group can be found at www.seabelize.org.
To protect this very special time and place, it is vital that all divers and snorkelers listen carefully to the well informed dive masters, snorkel guides and boat captains who lead whale shark excursions to Gladden Spit. You'll leave your Whale shark encounter not just impressed and awed by this amazing experience, but better educated in proper interaction. If you are interested in learning more about the Placencia Whale Sharks of Gladden Spit, we recommend enrolling on our Project Aware Whale shark specialty program to get the most from your encounter.