By “Sunday Morning” contributing videographer Judy Lehmberg. 

The Red Tea Detox

In 2016 I wrote about whale sharks off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. As I used to be writing about them then, I knew they had been the most important fish on the earth and that I needed to see one in individual.

Not simply see one; I needed to swim with them. That is not such a loopy concept, as a result of whale sharks eat plankton and are due to this fact innocent to people, or the rest a lot larger than a fish egg or small fish.

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Final week I lastly obtained my probability.

Whale sharks are the most important nonmammalian vertebrates, and might develop in measurement to greater than 60 toes in size.

I’ve a bunch of mates who all used to work with me at Lee School in Baytown, Texas. We name ourselves both “The Harpies” or “The Goddesses” (relying on our temper). One in every of us, Francisca, nonetheless teaches at Lee. One other, Becki, has moved to Fort Value, and method up within the administration at Tarrant County School. And one other, Joyce, has retired to Missoula, Montana. Earlier than Joyce retired she advised we get collectively no less than every year and go someplace enjoyable collectively. I did not know if we’d actually persist with that or not, however we’ve got, and we’ve got had some nice instances collectively.

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The primary 12 months, as a result of I used to be in cost and spend most of my 12 months simply outdoors Yellowstone Nationwide Park, we rented a home north of Yellowstone. The second 12 months Becki selected a beautiful cruise alongside the coast of British Columbia and Alaska. Final 12 months, when Joyce picked, we went to Lengthy Island, New York, the place we visited seashores, Theodore Roosevelt’s home, went to my first Broadway play and ate plenty of lobster. I would not wish to stay in New York Metropolis, however visiting was plenty of enjoyable, the play was fantastic, and we even obtained to go to the American Museum of Pure Historical past. And I obtained to see my first wild horseshoe crabs. Means larger than I believed they’d be!

This 12 months Francisca selected Cancun. Years and years in the past I spent a while on Isla Mujeres, an island seen from Cancun, however I had by no means been to Cancun correct. When she introduced her alternative, I began studying concerning the space and found whale sharks come there this time of 12 months to eat fish eggs, and that boats take vacationers out to swim with them. My swimming-with-whale-sharks dream was going to return true!

I began on the lookout for an organization to take us to the whale sharks and do some snorkeling. I discovered Cancun Mermaid was ranked effectively on Journey Advisor, so we booked our excursions with them. They offered us with nice private consideration and even gave us recommendations of locations to go on our personal someday when it was too wet to go snorkeling. Stacey, our information, went snorkeling with me the final day whereas the remainder of the group visited a number of cenotes.

The whale sharks had been fantastic. We boarded a ship with seven different vacationers and headed an hour-and-a-half off-shore. And there, out in the midst of the open ocean, had been whale sharks.


The very first thing I noticed as we approached them was there tails. They seemed so floppy as they propelled the sharks by the water. Then I noticed the remainder of their our bodies! Oh my gosh, they actually exist! White-spotted gray-blue fish the dimensions of automobiles and buses! It’s tough to elucidate simply how fantastic that have was, swimming subsequent to an enormous animal that did not seem to provide one wit about me and simply went about its enterprise slurping up fish eggs. I’ll always remember it though the images I obtained had been horrible. (Fortunately, I’ve a buddy who does plenty of scuba diving everywhere in the world and had images to share.)

Mexico is working onerous to guard whale sharks, who had been formally listed as endangered in 2016 primarily resulting from each authorized and unlawful fishing, being accidently caught in massive nets, and ship collisions. There have been some research that point out there are round 7,000 whale sharks left, however many biologists will not be positive that quantity is right. There could also be greater than that. We do know their numbers have considerably declined within the final 75 years.

To attenuate the affect vacationers have on the sharks solely two folks and their information are allowed within the water from every boat, and the variety of boats is proscribed.


Whale sharks are declining in some areas, particularly Oman and China, however they’re really growing within the Philippines, Taiwan, India and the Western Hemisphere the place they’re protected.

I’ve at all times stated watch out what you dream as a result of your goals can come true. That’s definitely true on this case, and I could not be happier.

Judy Lehmberg is a former school biology trainer who now shoots nature movies. 

Nature: Whale sharks

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