After 10 long years and thousands of miles worth of expeditions all across the globe, avid scuba diver and Fort Myers Beach Realtor Veronique Pascual finally has that "whale of a tale" she's been hoping to experience and share for so long. While vacationing off the coast of Cancun, Mexico along a little island called Isla Mujeres, Veronique and her diving group encountered a herd of whale sharks, enormous, docile and gentle giants of the deep sea. (Contrary to the "shark" title in their name, whale sharks are primarily herbivores, with their diets consisting for the most part of plankton, microscopic plants and fish eggs, and can grow in lengths of 45 feet and longer.)
"I have done a lot of diving through the years, but this was truly an experience of a lifetime," Veronique said. "We have been traveling the globe for 10 years in search of just seeing one whale shark, and here we stumble upon more than 200 of them!"
The dive group could see about 100 dorsal fins above the water, not sure of how many more were swimming below, and were told later that there were about 200 in the area this year.
Fort Myers Beach Realtor Veronique Pascual experienced the thrill of a lifetime after recently swimming with a school of more than 200 whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres, along the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. The local diver is pictured above in the pink cap, with her dive team during the expedition. Courtesy Veronique Pascual
Veronique and her diving crew not only got to experience being close to this vast school of sharks, but actually got to swim with them.
"It was absolutely amazing," she said. "Prior to this experience, we've been to many different places in search of the whale shark in various oceans, going as far as the Galapagos Islands and the Sea of Cortez (by Cabo San Lucas, West coast of Mexico), where whale shark sitings are reported every year, but the gentle giants have always eluded us until now!"
Ramon Geurrero lead the dive group, carefully briefing the team of the creatures' dietary habits, and the rules they were to abide by, not only for their protection but the animals' protection, with two divers in the water at a time, along with a master diver.
Ironically enough, Veronique tried this very same trip a couple years ago, with a more disappointing result.
"Two years ago, we took this same trip to Isla Mujeres, but bad weather prevented the boats from going out. We were so disappointed," she said. "This year, however, the stars were aligned and everything came together. The weather was superb, the seas were calm, and 200 whale sharks awaited our arrival!"
The local Realtor and her husband are so glad they decided to try the same little island off of Cozumel, catching a dream that was worth the 10-year wait.
"We will most certainly go back another year and enjoy the whale sharks again and the wonderful hospitality and beauty of Isla Mujeres!"
Veronique has been a Realtor for 22 years, living on Fort Myers Beach for 15 years and recently joined the island Sunstream Realty team in April.
She specializes in the Fort Myers Beach real estate market, extending into the areas of Bonita Springs, Estero and north Naples.
Feel free to contact her by calling 691-7442 or emailing AquaVero@aol.com.