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My Swim with a Whale Shark

Updated: May 18, 2019

My Swim with a Whale Shark

It took a 12-hour flight to Dubai, departing from the East Coast of the United States, along with a five-hour flight to Malé, and a one-hour charter flight over the Sea of Laquedivas to reach the island where the local airport is located. In addition, a 10-minute bus ride and 30-minute ferry completes the journey to get to Mahibadhoo, one of the attractive Maldivian Islands in the Indian Ocean.

There are almost one thousand islands making up the Maldives, of which approximately two hundred are inhabited, despite growing land loss due to rising water levels. Its population blends Asian and Indian physical features, and its traditions are based in conservative Islam ruled by the Sharia, the Islamic law practiced in Saudi Arabia.

Several of the common things seen in the Americas and Europe are crimes in the Maldives. Therefore, to visit this eden, it is better to know them before arriving. Dressing inappropriately, bringing a bible or torah for personal worship, holding hands with your partner, bringing alcohol, pork products, sex toys, and carrying weapons are some of the actions that can make your vacation a sour season.

Sunset in Maldives

With a frozen mint lemonade handy we waited to check in at the lobby of our hotel complex, which occupies practically most of the island of Mahibadhoo. In that same place, we organized the activities of the next days. We did everything, as the hotel hosts a variety of activities, including water sports (banana ride, paragliding, kayaking, jet blading and sailing) and shows.

We booked a hectic day—which we always do on the first day due to excitement. Though, that energy vanishes after a couple of days––at least for me. The first day’s plan was to go fishing in open sea, then swim with turtles, manta rays, and a whale shark (which are quite difficult to find). At the end of the day, our catch would be cooked and served close to the shore of the ocean.

We did catch a fish and the kids swam with turtles and manta rays. But I was determined to not swim and stay on the boat while everyone else was trying to find the whale shark. A couple of hours passed, and we were hunting through the ocean for the whale shark, until another boat notified our Capitan of their whale shark spotting, to which we sailed.

The Capitan of the yacht was saying out loud that we should be ready to jump. A guy from the crew jumped with a Go Pro in hand. And me, the person that was not going to jump, got her goggles and fins on and was the first one in.

I looked down under the water and I saw this enormous magical creature of the ocean. I believe it was about 7 times bigger than me. I knew that the international rules were not to touch them as they are protected animals of the ocean. I was so excited that I swam on top of it and closer until I got tired and everyone else was trying to get to the whale shark.

That feeling of not knowing whether to continue or stop or return to the boat was perhaps what made me immerse myself enough to appreciate it up close. It reminded me that maybe we are not the owners of the earth and that we should do more for the environment.

Now, while you enjoy my slideshow below, I’ll ride to my next spot. Perhaps, the moon?


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