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Georgia Aquarium whaleshark dive vs Mexico whaleshark snorkel?

Discussion in 'South Eastern United States' started by qwimjim, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
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    Hey I'm just wondering if anyone's done both, dove with the whale sharks at the aquarium AND done the whale shark snorkeling on isla mujeres? If so, what's the better experience? :)

    I recently inquired about the aquarium dive, and I know the money goes to a good cause but it's $333 + $32 admission to the aquarium + $60 for the whale shark add-on.. that's $425. I can literally fly to cancun for $300 and the snorkeling daytrip cost $125!

    From what I can see pro's of aquarium are my kids can see me diving, the water is crystal clear, you also get to see sharks and manta's, etc.. perhaps the isla mujeres snorkeling is a bit of a gong show with dozens of boats and perhaps visibility is not great?

    We're driving from DC to florida and so I was thinking of detouring to Atlanta to check out the aquarium, if I didn't do the dive, is it still worth the 4h detour? I'm assuming it's a pretty spectacular aquarium?

    Thanks!
     
    Ghosty likes this.
  2. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    My thinking exactly. Also, not that you asked for this kind of perspective, but personally, I don't care for the idea of captive whale sharks. I feel no aquarium is big enough for such a majestic animal. I live just a few blocks from the Georgia Aquarium, and before I became so passionate about diving and marine life I used to visit often, but I can hardly bring myself to do that anymore, now that I have seen so many creatures in the wild that the Aquarium has in captivity. I have snorkeled with whale sharks off Isla Mujeres and in the Dominican Republic, and it's a far more reassuring experience--probably for the whale shark as well. I also feel good supporting the local economy in such places, which have a vested interest in the whale shark population.
     
  3. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
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    @Lorenzoid while I don't disagree with you, I will say that choice for these whale sharks was to be killed, or live at the aquarium, they were taken as part of the allotted number by fishermen and would have literally ended up as food. I have far more issues with large marine mammals than I do with big fish being held.
     
  4. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
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    There's another factor to consider, you are sure that there will actually be whale sharks in the Aquarium! I am not familiar with the Isla Mujeres but during a liveaboard trip to Baja we did the "snorkel with the whale sharks" excursion offered by the LOB. The operator said that "the chance of encountering whale sharks was almost 100%." The important word in that sentence was "almost".

    They went to an area where the whale sharks were most likely to be found and they had a guy in an ultralight flying overhead trying to spot them, but we never saw a single whale shark. We spent the day floating around in inflatable boats, missing dives, and we got bad sunburn and sun-poisoning for our efforts. So far the only whale sharks I have seen in real life were behind glass in the Georgia Aquarium!

    We once did a dive in the coral reef tank in the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and it was a lot of fun. It's not like encountering free-swimming animals in the wild - that's very special - but it was still a nice experience.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    jonhall likes this.
  5. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    I haven't read anything saying they could not be released into the wild and survive. Sure, they are pelagic and don't stay where you put them. One really needs to see them swimming around and around in circles in that tank before judging what's best for these "big fish." (The Aquarium's rescued beluga whales look just as sad to me.) I have read both sides of the argument on the merits of keeping large animals in commercial aquariums, as many of us have, and I don't claim to have a simple answer. It's a complicated issue. It's also not what the OP asked about, so I'm willing to end my OT contribution here.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
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    true, from my understanding there's upwards of 400 whalesharks that congregate in this area of the yucatan in the summer months, one of the greatest concentrations in the world, and it's not a matter of whether you'll see whale sharks or not, but rather whether there will be 20 or 200. but that could be regurgitated marketing hyperbole? has anyone heard of someone going in july/august and not seeing any?
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    KathyV likes this.
  7. Ghost Diver #

    Ghost Diver # ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: North Carolina
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    The Georiga aquarium dive is a fantastic experience! Its expensive but if your in the area and can afford it...it's definitely worth doing. The amount of marine life swimming around you is staggering and the staff is great.
    My family and I made it a day trip, the aquarium itself is also a lot of fun.
    I agree, I don't like seeing animals kept outside there natural surroundings. However these are highly trained very dedicated people and I have to believe that what they are doing goes way beyond simply putting animals on display.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  8. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
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    Do you get to swim around freely with your buddy? Or bring any kind of camera equipment or gopro? I watched some videos on youtube but they all seem to be videos shot by the aquarium videographer, and a lot of the footage is just everyone kneeling on the bottom. I was hoping it was the kind of thing like Epcot where I read you can just go out on your own?
     
  9. Ghost Diver #

    Ghost Diver # ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: North Carolina
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    You swim with one of the DM's on staff. You can not bring any of your own equipment other then you mask and dive computer. They set everything up, you gear up and drop down and swim as a group. They take video for you and you can buy it. Most people just hang out in what bottom and watch all the animals.
     
  10. qwimjim

    qwimjim Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    223
    28
    28

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