Day 5

Did you say “manta ray?”

Our last day in Holbox started extra early as we all wanted to squeeze in as much time on the water as possible before heading back to Cancun. We loaded up the boats again and headed out to find our researchers on the water. We saddled up next to their boat to get a look at the actual satellite tags that they were planting on the whale sharks and saw some of their plankton samples. After watching the researchers in action tagging a shark and checking for gender, we headed off to join the whale sharks in the water.

Our last day on the water proved to be fruitful with even more animals making an appearance. At any given time, you could look around and see what appeared to be dozens of whale sharks in the immediate area. But that wasn’t all…

We went out a little further to break away from the pack of boats, and then we saw it. Julie shouted from her side of the boat, “MANTA RAY! MANTA RAY!” We all turned, cameras in hand, to try and catch a glimpse. About that time, a manta ray leapt out of the water. Abraham told us to keep watching because it would jump again, and Kristie was prepared. She got the amazing shot below of the manta as it broke the surface.

The rest of the day was filled with more manta rays and whale sharks that any of us could have imagined. Most of the time, we were spinning in circles, trying to see everything. Along with swimming with whale sharks, everyone got a chance to swim with enormous manta rays, which are even more magnificent up close. Mariana and Kristie were in the water with two mantas as they began barrel rolling, and Mariana got it on tape. The rest of the day was filled with gasps and screams of, “Whale shark! Manta ray! Whale shark!” Incredible didn’t begin to describe it.

Whale shark swim

Our swimmers wait patiently as the whale shark approaches them.


This HUGE manta ray swam right past one of our boats.

Manta jump

After seeing the manta jump once, Kristie was ready and able to get it on camera when it jumped a second time.





The two boats headed out together first thing in the morning.

Researcher measure

When we found the researchers, they were using this tool to measure a shark's length.


Georgia Aquarium's Leslie Zeigler shows Marjorie an actual plankton sample.

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