Celebrating the beauty and culture of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and championing the need to preserve a fragile marine ecosystem the Third Annual Whale Shark Festival is to take place from 15-19th July. It will be a community extravaganza that showcases the achievements, the traditions and the environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres.
Last year thousands flocked to the family-friendly Whale Shark Festival, which offers guests an opportunity to participate in ecotourism adventures such as swimming with whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean and an endangered species; traditional dancing performed by local troupes; exploring ancient Mayan ruins and much more.
The Whale Shark Festival is an effort to raise awareness of the need to preserve the area’s marine ecosystemand a portion of the Festival proceeds will be donated to several environmental not-for-profit organizations. Isla Mujeres is part of the second largest barrier reef on the planet, and serves as the nursery of the Caribbean and the migratory path of whale sharks as well as sea turtles, water foul and game fishes.
Guests of the Festival can participate in a wide array of activities. Kicking off the Festival will be the much anticipated whale shark bloom, where hundreds of these gentle giants will come together to swim in a group near the coast of Isla Mujeres. Last year was the largest aggregation ever witnessed and approximately 1,400 whale sharks make their way through the waters of Isla Mujeres every summer.
Guests can swim with whale sharks and join an effort by Project Domino, a conservation program implemented by the Mexican government, to protect and preserve these graceful creatures. Guests can add their underwater photos of the whale sharks to Project Domino’s visual database of the unique markings, or spots, that can identify individual whale sharks and track them. Images from the Project Domino regional database are shared with a global database from nonprofit ECOCEAN.
“International events, and especially those such as the Whale Shark Festival which have a strong local element as well, are absolutely essential to increase the conservation culture through environmental education,” noted Rafael de la Parra, Lead Marine Biologist for Project Domino, a sponsor of the 2010 Festival.
The Festival will feature activities for kids to learn about helping the environment. “Educating children about the importance of recycling, showing them how they can get involved to protect the marine environment and its biodiversity — with beach cleanups, and just the choices they make every day – is vital to our future,” said Catalina Galindo de Prince, executive director of the nonprofit Amigos de Isla Contoy, A.C., a sponsor of the 2010 Festival.
For more information about the whale shark or how to get to Isla Mujeres please visit http://cancun.travel/en/things-to-do/adventure/whale-shark/