Yucatan Wildlife
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Fishes of the Yucatan Peninsula

Whale Shark
Whale Shark (Photo copyright 2005, Keith Jones)

Whale Shark Festival


Photo by Claudio Contreras Coob, Amigos de Isla Contoy

Whale Shark - Rhincodon typus

The Whale Shark is the largest species of fish and quite unlike the stereotypical shark image. It is quite docile and harmless to man. It feeds on plankton and other small marine creatures. It grows to a maximum length of 20 metres (60 ft).

Isla Holbox (pronounced HOLE-bosh) is one of the best places to see these gentle giants. From May through October, Whale Sharks gather in the waters off this island. July to September are the best months. They can be easily seen by going on one of the many boat trips available here. You can even snorkel in the water close to the sharks as long as you follow the rules.

Isla Mujeres is another good location. They hold an annual festival in July.

  • Whale Shark Festival, July, in Isla Mujeres.  ...link 
  • Biological Profile of the Whale Shark from the Florida Museum of Natural History.  ...link 
  • "Yucatan haven's balancing act: Whale shark ecotourism" - article by Jim Tharpe, October 04, 2005.  ...link 
  • Yucatan Today has a nice article about the Whale Sharks of Isla Holbox.  ...link 
  • Keith Jones offers specialized tours to see the Whale Sharks in the Yucatan and elsewhere.  ...link 

Oceanic Fishes

  • List of oceanic fishes
  • Identification chart for some of the larger fishes with Spanish names.  ...link 
  • Underwater photos of fishes around coral reefs by Tom Murray  ...link 
  • The Mangrove Killifish - Kryptolebias (formerly Rivulus) marmoratus - is an unusual fish that lives in the mangroves. It can live in trees for several months and may be the only known hermaphrodite vertebrate - that can self-fertilise.  ...link 

Freshwater Fishes

Other Marine Life

  • Thimble Jellyfish - Linuche unguiculata
    They are the size and shape of brown thimbles and sometimes appear in large numbers beween January and June.
  • Queen Conch (El Caracol Rosado) - Strombus gigas
    This is a protected species and it is illegal to buy, sell, eat or fish for it from May 1 - October 31

  • Spanish translation
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