On one of my trips to experience marine animals with marine conservationists, Taro Smith, Ph.D and Shawn Heinrichs, we found a place where former shark fishermen are now "thrilling instead of killing" by taking people like me out into the ocean to swim and interact with whale sharks and manta rays.
It was an honor to support the eco-tourism efforts in Mexico and to witness how these fishermen are so protective of the whale sharks and manta rays!
Although there were many boats and people in the water (which may seem bothersome to the animals), the alternative (being fished for their fins) could mean much bigger problems for these creatures.
My experience swimming near them is that they were aware enough to avoid collision with me, but they certainly were not threatened by my presence in any way. The animals were so focused on filtering for fish eggs, I might as well have been a floating log!
This video, shot by Taro Smith, Ph.D, showcases the beauty of these animals and how you can help protect sharks and manta rays, as well as our oceans.