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The Afuera Expedition

Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Off the coast of Cancun, lies a very special place.  Known as the Afuera, it is the site of the largest known gathering of whale sharks anywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, as we were able to document, it is also an area heavily traveled by container ships.  Over three days our group worked with biologists to learn more about this unique annual event and why it’s vital to protect these waters.  The scientists looked for opportunities to deploy tags and we collected size and sex data and conducted plankton tows to better understand what draws these amazing animals to this particular place each year.  It proved to be an exceptional year with more than 100 whale sharks and even more manta rays doing barrel rolls and launching their 12 to 15-foot wide bodies completely out of the water!