The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, and one of the largest creatures alive today, with the largest accurately measured whale shark coming in at 40 feet, 7 inches in length, with a 4.5 foot wide mouth, a 4.5 foot high dorsal fin, and 6.5 foot long pectoral fins.
This "whale" of a shark was caught in a gill net thrown over the side of a 20 foot long boat in Bombay, India!
Whale sharks aggregate to feed on jack and snapper spawn during the full moons in April and May at Gladden Spit off the Placencia coast. Four to six days after these full moons is the best time for a chance to interact with whale sharks at Gladden Spit.
Note: the April and May full moons for 2013 are on the 25th of each month.
Whale Shark Snorkeling
and Diving Regulations
Belize Whale Shark
Conservation and Research
During the last 12 years, the Belize barrier reef near Placencia (Gladden Spit) has been the focus of whale shark research, primarily by Rachel Graham, the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Whitley Gold Award.
Rachel's work has assessed how marine reserves could be better designed and managed to protect the whale shark and has provided much-needed new information on the population, ecology, movements and behaviour of whale sharks, including the large seasonal grouping of whale sharks on the southern Belize Barrier Reef.
In large part based on Rachel's work, Belize has undertaken to protect whale sharks from the threats of irresponsible tourism by establishing the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve off the Placencia coast, and enacting community-based Whale Shark Interaction Regulations.
The Gladden Spit Marine Reserve was officially established on Thursday, 18 May 2000, with opening ceremonies on the Silk Cayes, and the Reserve consists of a General Use Zone and a Conservation Zone.