The Whale Shark Sustainability Challenge aims to raise awareness about the wonder that is the simple fact to see these magnificent fish in their natural habitat. That is why we want you to enjoy every part of the tour since you arrive to the pier, till reaching the sea and the moment when you found a whale shark and then, the part that we consider the most special: the intense search. Simply entering the sea and sail to the deep water, where you will not see any portion of land, and where you will only be surrounded by the vastness of the blue sea. That is the best feeling and the weirdest, because your life depends on the captain, the sailor and the guide. That’s when you realize you’re about to find yourself in the greatness of the ocean.
On the boat, the guide will talk about what to do, the rules for swimming with whale sharks, how the snorkel is used (it never hurts to remember) and explains the way to jump in to the water (a wonderful part of the tour that it is not always possible, because depending on the number of sightings and the number of boats around is that the guide decides if it possible or not to do the jump). To EcoColors it is very important to respect the giants of the sea and all the creatures that live in the ocean, which is why we avoid to disturb the sharks (we don’t want to stress them, because when they are on the surface it is because they are feeding).
Suddenly, you are ready with the snorkeling gear and flippers on, your guide asks out loud: Who is ready? And the first two brave to say I am ready! will jump into the water without thinking and it is those seconds that you feel disoriented, swallowed water, the heart beats a mile a minute and all that you think about is swimming, as fast as you can to find the whale shark and appreciate his greatness. When you have it in front of you for the first time, you stay in white, perhaps slightly petrified and then you allow yourself to feel the peace and harmony of these gentle giants and all that you want at that moment is swim and watch its beautiful spots, its little eyes and its big mouth, its tail that moves lightly and that’s the moment, there’s nothing else, just you, the vastness of the sea and the whale shark.
The feeling of swim near to these giants and being surrounded by several of them is something that goes beyond words. What I can say is that is the most wonderful experience and that is why we want to do something to protect the sea creatures that probably existed before us in the planet, so I think it’s not fair invade their space and take away their right to swim freely and safe in the sea.
Ch’ooj Ajauil is an organization led by the renowned biologist Rafael de la Parra, who seeks to protect these amazing giants by investigating their lifestyle, their movements, feeding and reproduction, including some signals of social interaction between them and other interesting things around these amazing creatures.
The name of Ch’ooj Ajauil has its roots in the Mayan language and the words Ahauil that mean Lordship (or United) and Ch’ooj that means blue. So the whole name means Blue Realm in English.
And what this organization wants is to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for an area of marine biodiversity in northern Quintana Roo, which provides superlative natural phenomena through multidisciplinary working groups, interacting to preserve the north-east coast of Quintana Roo, developing environmental education programs, true ecotourism, rational and non-extractive activities, studies and investigations aimed at sustainable management.
All this with a very clear objective: to get the important recognition as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
So now you know, the Whale Shark Sustainability Challenge is the union between Ch’ooj Ajauil and EcoColors created to protect and raise awareness around the world about the importance of the oceans, especially responsable tourism and the whale shark preservation.