Whale Shark Sighting While Paddle Boarding in Baja

Posted on March 6, 2017 by Douglas Robichaud

Whale shark in the bay

In the morning I paddled out alone in the bay and realized that I was already in love with the quiet beauty and seclusion of Bahia de Concepcion. It was our second visit to the solitary camp spot on the bay we had discovered a few weeks before. It was a bit different this time. Firstly, all four tires rested on solid ground, instead of being buried in the beach. Secondly, our brake line was fully intact.


A good distance from shore, I stood on my paddleboard watching a pelican perched on a cactus looking down into the water in search of breakfast. When he flew away, I turned my attention back to the open bay just in time to see a fin slide out of the water. I didn’t know what kind of creature the fin belonged to, but I did know it definitely wasn’t a dolphin. In fact, from where I stood watching the fin slice through the water, it seemed to be doing a pretty good impression of a shark.

A month ago, such a sight would probably have sent me paddling the other way. But, this far into my adventures in Baja, I had grown comfortable with the sea. So instead of turning away, I paddled straight towards it. When I saw the creature’s white spots and wide open mouth, I immediately relaxed. I knew I was looking at a whale shark.

Whale sharks can grow up to forty feet in length. Since this one was barely longer than my board, I knew it was young. I knew plenty of people who’d been lucky enough to swim with these gentle giants, but I’d never even seen one in person before. It didn’t seem to mind me following along as it swam, filtering through swirls of tiny organisms in the salt water.

From the shore, Jack flew a drone, capturing aerial footage of the encounter. The whale shark stayed at the end of the bay near our camp for most of the day, letting Jack and I paddle and swim with him until we parted ways. It was truly a magical experience.

One thing that become obvious to me during this experience is how gently and calm whale sharks are. Out of respect, we never touched our finned friend. He never seemed alarmed by our presence.

Posted in Travel

Douglas Robichaud -

Doug is a content writer at ISLE Surf & SUP who has been surfing and paddle boarding for over 10 years. With a degree in English/Journalism, Doug has been an outdoor adventure content writer for over four years. Since joining the ISLE team, he has become a paddle board expert in all topics ranging from products, basic tutorials, tips and tricks, SUP safety, and new trends.


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