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Any tips for seeing whale sharks in Utila?

Discussion in 'Bay Islands' started by luk, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. luk

    luk Registered

    Is there any tip on planning a diving trip to see whale sharks in Utila? Is March/April best possible to see? Should I plan a dive on full moon or new moon date? Thanks!
  2. lthomas132

    lthomas132 Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas
    These guys are the best at finding whale sharks around Utila: Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center WSORC. They are closely associated with BICD Bay Islands College of Diving - Dive Shop Utila. We stayed at Utila Lodge (also associated with BICD) in October next door to both. Great bunch of young people that really like what they do.
  3. laurenceh

    laurenceh Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    there are really no "best at finding whale sharks" on utila, every dive company sees them relatively equally. the skippers are the guys who find the whale sharks and they switch jobs from place to place relatively often, plus once a skipper does see a whale shark they radio everyone else and let them know where they are. so chances are, as long as your dive company goes to the north side every day (ask, before booking because some dive centers don't go to the north said everyday in order to save gas $$$) and if the weather is cooperating (must be dead calm to spot them, any white caps and its impossible), you will see them if they are feeding at the surface that week. the whale sharks follow the tuna (bonito) schools as they drive bait fish to the surface and the skippers look for the unusual movement of water at the surface (referred to as a boil or a roil) and the birds being attracted to it. you will then slip into the water and snorkel as the whale shark feeds on the bait fish just below the surface.
    i've always had the best luck seeing them either the week before the full moon or the week after the full moon. although whale sharks are in utila waters all year round my best months for encounters have always been march, april, may, september and december/january. the key is to spend as many hours as possible out on the water to maximize your chances.
    Doc and Utopia.Village like this.
  4. luk

    luk Registered

    Thank you!
  5. Doctorfish

    Doctorfish Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Canada
    whale shark encounters on Utila are snorkel only, by the way.
    lthomas132 likes this.
  6. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    We spent a week on Utila in April a few years ago but the weather never allowed us to go to the North side. Bummer.
  7. trpplp

    trpplp Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Houston, Texas
    We are trying to make a last minute April vacation. We have debated Utila because we would love to snorkel with whale sharks. Does April bring weather that would make it less likely to be able to go to the North side, or is it just a random kind of thing?
  8. keesmon

    keesmon Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States
    i think it's Random. We took an April trip and they had been spotted until about a week before we got there.
    We dove the north side every day.
    They showed up about a week after we left again.
    This was Island wide, not company specific.
    Luck of the draw.
    It's best to focus on the diving, and then treat the whale shark encounters as a very special treat.
    We had a good week regardless.
    This was in 2010
  9. laurenceh

    laurenceh Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    we have been out snorkeling with whale sharks for 10 of the last 14 days. weather has been perfect for spotting them on Utila' Northside. lots of dolphins as well, must have been 100+ of them in a pod on saturday.
    these shots were taken last week by my neighbor Brad
    581878_10154013346516064_558865239184737427_n.jpg 735150_10153243994271841_4957486420538945058_n.jpg 922940_10153243995811841_8611620510103567842_n.jpg 12671765_10154013346056064_1203416551514342651_o.jpg 12885922_10154013346961064_8431248978235048752_o.jpg
    Flutter, ScubaJill and lthomas132 like this.
  10. GoProHonduras

    GoProHonduras Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Bay Islands, Honduras
    Agree 100% with what laurenceh posted, "These guys are the best at finding whale sharks around Utila", if the Whale sharks are around any operator that dives Northside is likely to find them. The question should be to choose a consistent North side operator that offers great diving/guides even if no Whale sharks are around, and also one that follows and respects the conservation guidelines/encounters.

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