One of the top things that adventure seekers visiting Los Cabos want to do during their vacation is swim with whale sharks, and they often take the two-hour trip to La Paz to do so. Those visiting in the near future, though, may not get that opportunity because whale shark swimming tours in La Paz have been suspended until further notice. The suspension is due to the number of whale sharks present in the Bay of La Paz Refuge Area.
How Many Whale Sharks Is Not Enough?
According to reports, on three different days recently, January 29th and 30th and February 1st, only two whale sharks were present. Apparently, there is a protocol that is supposed to be followed that determines how many whale sharks need to be present in order to operate viewing and swimming tours. When the number of whale sharks gets below five, tours are supposed to be suspended, and that is what the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas did.
Whale Shark Tours In La Paz
Typically the best time to see whale sharks in La Paz is between the months of October and May, but they are present year-round. Snorkeling and diving with these massive creatures is an amazing experience, as whale sharks tend to swim alongside humans and are not aggressive, despite being part of the shark family. The cost of swimming with whale sharks in La Paz starts at around $90 for a 2 ½ hour tour, but the price goes up depending on what is included in the tour.
Location Of La Paz
La Paz is located about two hours north of Los Cabos on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja California Peninsula. It is the capital city of the state of Baja California Sur, which is not only where La Paz is located but also Los Cabos, which includes San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. The city of La Paz is known for its waterfront restaurants and bars, the tree and sculpture-lined boardwalk along the beach, and its beautiful beaches, namely Playa Balandra.
Whale sharks are listed globally as being endangered, which likely plays a role in the suspension of whale shark tours when so few are present. Whale shark tourism is thought to be one of the issues endangering these harmless marine animals. According to marine biologists, this is because swimming with whale sharks causes disruptions in their natural routines, like feeding. Boat propellers on tour boats also pose a threat to whale sharks.
How Whale Shark Tour Operators Are Reacting
Whale shark tour operators disagree with the decision made by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) to suspend tours. One tour operator, Fabricio Mújica Zambrano, commented that these decisions are made on a whim. He claims that there is no respect for the rules that are already in place regarding the time frame allowed for whale shark tourism and the cost of permits.
What Whale Shark Tour Operators Have To Say
Tour operators are vocal about the effect the whale shark tour suspension is having on the tourism community. According to one tour operator, “There is already a study done by biologists, and these time parameters are simply not respected.” He further stated that “the terrible impact for us (tour operators) is to sell among all companies an “x” amount of services for the following days and to be closed.” The losses, he says, amount to 400,000 – 500,000 pesos, or around $21,000 – $26,000 USD, in just a few days.
Many people visit Los Cabos planning to make the trip to La Paz to swim with whale sharks. For now, though, there is no telling when the tours will be offered again in the Bay of La Paz.
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