Every spring, a large number of whale sharks flocks to Gladden Spit Marine Reserve, about 30 mi (48 km) off the coast of Placencia peninsula. A unique spawning and breeding area for over 20 fish species attracts whale sharks because they feed on fish eggs. Whale sharks are especially abundant in Belize during March, April, May, and June.
Reaching a length of 62 ft (19 m), whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) prefer warm tropical ocean waters. This slow-moving fish has a large mouth with over 300 rows of teeth, but it is a filter feeder, eating plankton and small fish. The shark's head is quite flat, with eyes positioned on the corners. The body is dark grey with a white belly as well as spots and stripes unique to each individual. The whale shark has two dorsal fins and a pair of pectoral fins.
Swimming and diving with whale sharks in Belize
Several operators offer snorkeling and diving experiences with whale sharks from Placencia. It's possible to dive up to 60 ft (18 m) in the Gladden Spit area. The experience takes a full day and costs anywhere from $195 to $250. Whale sharks are usually quite playful and friendly with swimmers. A licensed whale shark guide ensures divers and snorkelers have the best experience while all regulations are followed.