World’s Best Big Animal Encounters for Scuba Divers
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Top 10 : Where can we swim or dive with large predator and incredible marine animals?
Marine predators are beautiful, impressive but they seem to us inaccessible and dangerous us. Nevertheless, most are harmless. If you dream of approaching them, swimming or even diving with those giants of the seas, here is our list of the best destinations and periods to meet them.
Swim with Orcas
The orca is known as THE super marine predator. He is the only one that attack the great white shark and tiger sharks. The killer whale is indeed an unusual creature: Measuring sometimes up to 9 meters long, this mammal can also reach a swimming speed of 48km/h and stay under water for nearly 30 minutes. Nevertheless, this marine animal is not dangerous for man. No attack, whether deadly or not, has been reported in its natural environment! Trust my personal experience, swimming with them was one of the best moment in my life.
Where and when to swim with orcas?
Norway is the place where you are sure to swim or dive with orcas with them. The best period to live this adventure is from November to February. Lofoten, Tromso and Tysfjord are the places we recommend you strongly!
Cage diving with Great White Shark
The great white or large white shark is definitely the most impressive predator of the aquatic world. He knows no predator except human and the killer whale. Diving close to them is something that you will remember forever. Great white shark could be 1100 kg big and 7 meters long. You should know that most dives with white shark are caged.
When and where to dive with great white sharks?
This large shark is found mainly in the southern hemisphere, although it is also present in the Gulf of Mexico. If you would like to do scuba diving with white sharks, be aware that the most popular countries to meet it are:
- – South Africa at Gansbaai from April to November.
- – Mexico from July to November.
- – The United States from July to November.
- – Australia at Port Lincoln, all year long.
It is clearly one of the most feared sharks. Indeed, it feeds on everything without distinction dolphins, dugongs, turtles, whales but also cans, wood, electric cables, etc.. That is why its nickname is the: trash shark. Nevertheless, even if sometimes he attack human, the tiger shark is not a man-eater. With 4 meters long for 500 kg of muscle, its appearance is always an unforgettable intense event.
Where and when to see them?
If you want to be sure to cross them underwater, there are many destinations offering it:
- – New Caledonia, all year long.
- – French Polynesia, all year long.
- – Bahamas at Tiger Beach, all year long.
- – South Africa at Aliwal Shoal, all year long.
- – Mozambique at Ponta do Oro, all year long.
- – The Caribbean at Shark Alley, all year long.
They can also be found in the Atlantic Ocean, but there are fewer encounters. You can observe tiger sharks all year long on the destinations mentioned above.
Dive with Great Hammerhead Shark
There are 9 species of hammerhead sharks. However, the most impressive of all is definitely, the great hammerhead shark. The biggest can reach up to 6 meters. Its physique is common to the members of its species, with a cartilaginous body, and a head in the shape of a spatula that allows it to have a panoramic vision. Is the hammerhead shark dangerous for humans? These sharks are great predators and can be potentially harmful to humans even though no cases of death have been recorded in recent years.
Where and when can we observe them?
Dive with the great hammerhead shark is possible, especially in French Polynesia, between November and March. However, this usually requires deep dives and the right certifications are required.
Swim, dive and observe Thresher Sharks
The fox shark takes its name from its hunting technique. Indeed, it uses elaborate stratagems to capture its prey. This shark turns around its prey, using his tail to hypnotize them, he also use its long caudal fin to prevent the prey to escape. Nevertheless, the thresher shark is as cunning and fierce towards its prey as it is shy towards divers. This is why this animal is totally inoffensive toward human. Thresher sharks are living quite deep but often come at shallower depth in order to get cleaned by other fishes. This is the reason why we call them “hygienic”.
When to see them?
They can be observed while scuba diving during their cleaning sessions all year long, generally in the morning. Monad Shoal in Malapascua, Philippines is a famous place to dive with thresher shark.
The Blue Shark
The blue skin shark is so named for its beautiful blue skin. It is present in all the oceans and seas of the world, except of the polar zones. The blue shark, especially the male, has, however, a preference for temperate waters. Indeed, the female supports better cold water. In addition, the blue shark is a powerful but very curious fish. He is not afraid to get close to divers. However, even if not aggressive, be sure to follow the safety rules, especially for larger specimens.
Where can we see blue sharks?
The best destination for diving and swimming with blue sharks is the Azores, especially on the island of Faial, Portugal. The best time to dive in the Azores is from July to October, as it is the 4 months when the visibility is the best.
The Whale Shark
The giant whale shark is certainly the sweetest and most harmless shark for humans. This huge shark is the largest fish in the world. Swimming and diving in his company is the dream of all divers. Indeed, the whale shark seems to be filled with a certain delicacy and even a kind of fragility, despite its gigantic size. His movements are very elegant. Moreover, the whale shark is always followed during its travels by a multitude of individuals, fish or even other sharks. Its meeting is therefore always a magnificent spectacle.
Where and when to see whale sharks?
The best time to observe it varies according to the regions in which it is found:
- – Thailands, Koh Tao or Similans from February to May
- – Mexico, Gladden Spit or Belize from February to May
- – Mexico at Quintana Roo, in the Yucatan region, from mid-July to the end of August
- – Philippines, Honda Bay Palawan between the months of April and May.
- – Mozambique from November to February, and more specifically in Cabo San Sebastian
- – Honduras, Utila, all year long.
The Basking Shark
The basking shark is as massive and harmless as the whale shark. Indeed, it only feeds on plankton and sometimes on fish, such as herring and sardines. This shark is very easily recognizable, thanks to its huge mouth widely open.
Where to meet him?
Basking sharks can be found all over the world. Indeed, this strange shark is present in the temperate water. However, if you can see them easily if you are in the right place, it is not easy to dive and swim with them. Only a few diving centers offer dives or expeditions with basking sharks, particularly in Glasgow, Scotland, during the summer, especially in August, or on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom.
Meet and swim with Sea Lions is possible
The sea lion, is one of the great predators of the Antarctic, with the orca and the great white shark. It is so named because of the dark spots it has on the body, but also for its ferocity, power and velocity. Despite the fear he inspires, the leopard of the seas is a fearful animal. He is, however, very curious with the divers he encounters. He easily approaches human. However be careful it could become aggressive, and attack the dive boats or your fins.
Where and when to observe sea leopards?
If you want to swim and dive with sea lion there is only one place, the Antarctic. And no worries, they live there all year long.
Observe Sea Crocodile
This crocodile has a massive body and is the largest living reptile. The largest living marine crocodile is 10 meters long. Moreover, this predator is a nocturnal and opportunistic hunter. When the conditions are favorable, he does not hesitate to attack the first prey that passes. The sea crocodile is therefore very dangerous.
Where can we swim with sea crocodiles?
If you are looking for adrenaline, then a dive in the company of those crocodiles will be perfect. Indeed, this nocturnal hunter attacks the divers only if he has the possibility :. Also, if you follow the safety rules, no stress, it should be ok for you. The best destination for adrenaline adventurers, is the Queen’s Gardens dive site, Cuba.
Diving with Humpback Whales
The humpback whale is a magnificent giant of the seas. It can measure up to 17 meters and weigh about 25 tons, as an adult. Females are often larger than males. The humpback whale gets its name from the hump on its back. It is then easily recognizable, thanks to its imposing and massive body. Moreover its head is covered with tubers. It is very simple to distinguish one humpback whale from another. Indeed, the drawings formed by the black and white colors of the cetacean, present on the fins, is unique for each individual. In addition, the humpback whale is completely harmless to humans. So you can admire it and listen without any fear.
Where to see humpback whales?
Humpback whales live part of the year in the northern hemisphere. When winter arrives and after the nuptial parades, they migrate to the southern hemisphere to safely give birth in the hot lagoons. As a result, the best times vary according to the destination. So, if you decide to travel between February and April, it is better go to Mexico. On the other hand it you prefer to dive in Mayotte, Madagascar, in Polynesia, or in New Caledonia, it is better to go between July and October. Moreover, if you are going to Mozambique and Dominica, the best period will be between the months of June to September. Finally, if you choose Hawaii, then prefer the months of November to June.
Swim with Blue Whales
The blue whale is the largest living animal in the world. Indeed, as an adult, these whales can reach up to 30 meters in length and weigh up to 200 tons. She is more than a giant of the seas, she is a true marine titan. His body can be gray slate or light blue. Some specimens are sometimes spotted, with lighter colors. In addition to its gigantic size, the blue whale is also known for its melodious song, emitted on low frequencies. In general, the blue whale is a solitary animal. Nevertheless, it happens to travel the oceans in a group or only with another congener. The blue whale is also present in all oceans, but it prefers cold waters where there is more krill. During spawning periods, it is found in warmer waters and they are is not difficult to observe. But remember, there are many rules to respect if you want to dive in their company. Yes, it is a protected species.
Where to dive or swim with blue whales?
If you want to be sure to see them and maximize your chances, better go to the Azores, in Portugal, from Mars to June.
Devil Ray or Mobula Ray
The mobula also called devil ray, could be confuse with manta ray a. It is recognizable thanks to its 2 straight and thick horns. The mobula can be from 2.50 and 3.5 meters wide. Some specimens can reach 5 meters. Moreover, those devils of the seas often live in groups, which makes encounters diving, magical, and almost unreal. Indeed, every time a mobula group travels, the divers attend a real show, the mobula rays are capable of making leap leaps out of the water.
Where can we dive to observe the migration of mobula rays?
To be able to swim and dive with these stunning rays, the best destination is most definitely the Azores, Portugal and especially the underwater mountain of Princess Alice, off Pico Island. This dive site goes from 35 meters below the surface to 100 meters deep. If you want to appreciate the show, better go there between June and the end of October. If you prefer Asia or the Carribean, no worries, you can dive with small groups of devil rays all year long. In that case, we recommend you to visit Pulau Weh in Indonesia or the Bahamas.
The eagle ray, is famous from the dot on his body and also because of his way of swimming similar to birds. Moreover, the eagle of the seas is easily recognizable for its pectoral fins also called “wings” giving it the shape of a lozenge, its rostrum very prominent and finally, if you still have a doubt, you can recognize this animal thanks to the long tail, which is usually twice as long as her body. Be careful, the tail is equipped with poisonous spines. The eagle ray is carnivorous, feeding on crustaceans or mollusks. Nevertheless, eagle rays are not dangerous at all for divers. One more thing, usually this magnificent fish lives in groups.
Where and when can you dive with eagle ray ?
You can observe this beautiful animal just about anywhere in the world:
- – Aruba, go for a dive trip from May to December.
- – Curaçao, better dive there from December to August.
- – Bonaire, diving hollidays, from August to November.
- – Canary Islands, you can meet eagle rays in Tenerife, from June to September.
- – Portugal, Madeira, all year long.
- – Portugak, dive the Azores, from July to September.
- – Mexico, dive Cozumel, scuab dive there whenever you want. Nevertheless, you should be attentive to the hurricane season from July to November.
- – Mozambique, go for a dive trip from May to October.
- – Cape Verde, all year long.
Swimming with Manta Rays
The manta ray fascinates as much as it marvels. We can then distinguish two types of manta: the manta alfredi and the manta birostris or giant manta. Thus the manta alfredi is reef ray, living in the tropics. The manta ray alfredi can be 3 to 5 meters long and can weigh up to 1 ton. It is recognizable thanks to its ventral face, which is white with black spots and its black dorsal surface with white Y-shaped spots. On the other hand, the birostris is more commonly known as the giant Manta ray. It is a migratory species, unlike the manta alfredi. It evolves in tropical seas, temperate zones and also in colder water. The giant manta can measure up to 7 meters and weigh nearly 2 tons. Unlike the manta alfredi ray, the ventral face of the giant manta is an immaculate white. Its dorsal surface may resemble that of the alfredi manta but its white spots are T-shaped. Thus each manta ray alfredi and birostris has a different and unique pattern. The mantas have a flattened body, which is wider than long. They also have two cephalic fins, shaped like horns. Mantas filter water for food plankton and microscopic animals and to breathe. Indeed, like sharks, the manta ray, if it stops swimming, does not have enough oxygen to survive. Thus it is in constant motion. In addition, manta rays are very sociable animals and live in groups. Luckily for us divers, the manta rays love “cleaning stations”, where they often go to get ridd of their parasites.
Where to sea Manta rays?
You can dive in Hawaii, from July to October, to enjoy scuba diving with mantas. If you chose Mexico for your scuba travel, the island of Socorro will be perfect, in that case better go from November to May. In the case you want a diving trip in Galapagos and dive with manta rays plan your holidays from July to November. Nevertheless if you prefer the charm of the Asian continent, you will have the pleasure to swim with manta rays in Maldives, between October and March. We also highly recommend the diving sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang accessible from Koh Lanta in Thailand. Otherwise you can decide to go to Madagascar but for this destination you must dive there from October to November. Finally, if you have set your sights on Oceania, New Caledonia will allow you to swim with the sublime mantas from January to the end of April.
Dugong and Manatee
Do you know that the siren myth come from the dugong? Its name means in Malay: “lady of the sea”. The dugong is a cousin of the manatee, both are part of the Sirena family. This peaceful and gentle animal is very friendly and love to play with divers. The dugong measures between 3 and 4 meters, and weighs up to 900 kilograms. Due to its size and weight, its only enemies are tiger sharks and human. Dugong can lives between 25 and 50 years. This animal is herbivorous, spending his time eating sea grass, that’s why is also called “cow of the sea”. Dugongs are also semi-nomadic, they evolve in shallow waters in Mozambique, Indonesia, Red Sea or Australia. It can be seen in mangroves, bays and in canals where seagrass grow.
Where can you swim with manatees and dugongs?
The best destinations to scuba dive with this amazing animal is Marsa Alam in Egypt and Belize in the Caribbean where you can swim and dive with them all year long.
© Christian Schlamann – Dugong
Swim with dolphins
There are 36 species of Dolphin, and the most famous is the great dolphin. This charming marine mammal measures between 2 and 3 meters and weighs from 200 to 300 kilograms. The dolphins live between 30 and 40 years. Nevertheless, this longevity is greatly reduced when they are in captivity. This species is easily recognizable, thanks to its “smile”. Its diet is mostly composed of fish sardines, anchovies, mackerel, etc., but sometimes big dolphins decide to attack cephalopods and crustaceans. The dolphin hunting techniques perfectly reflect their social behavior. Indeed, adults turn around their prey and bring them back to the group. Usually dolphins lived in group, nevertheless, there are solitary dolphins, which scientists call “dolphin ambassador”. The reasons for this solitude remain a mystery for the scientific community. Dolphins are very intelligent mammals, curious, altruistic, and especially very playful. This is why meeting them is always a magical and unforgettable moment.
Where can I see dolphins?
Large dolphins live in temperate and tropical waters. They are therefore present in all the oceans, with the exception of the polar zones. The best destinations for diving and swimming with them are the Dominican Republic, New Zealand and French Polynesia, including Tahiti, Moora and Rangiroa.
Best period to meet dolphins? Almost all year long !
The Sperm Whale is the source of many legends and stories, including the well-known novel “Moby Dick”. This giant of the oceans is fascinating. Contrary to common sense, sperm whales are part of the dolphin family and not the whales. Indeed, while whales have baleen, sperm whales have, like their cousins, teeth 20 centimeters long and weighs up to 1 kilogram. The reason for this misunderstanding comes from the size of these incredible mammals. Male sperm whales can measure up to 20 meters, while smaller females can measure up to 14 meters. These giants weigh between 35 and 50 tons. On the other hand, they feed mainly on giant squid, living in the abyss. It is common to observe old sperm whales sperm whales can live more than 70 years with many scars on their head, which show the violence of the fighting against giant squids. To get their prey, the sperm whales are able to stay under water, almost 1 hour and a half. The world record of the whole animal kingdom of depth in apnea is held by the sperm whales with 3000 meters.
Where and when can I watch sperm whale?
Azores, Dominica Island and Mauritius are the place to observe them. Portugal, is better to go between Mai and October. Mauritius you must go there between February and April. Last but not least the Dominica Islands is the paradise for sperm whale watching, indeed they are there all year long.
So if you like adrenaline and adventure, do not hesitate and contact us, we will help you to organize this amazing trip you will never forget! You can also use our interactive dive map in order to find the best spot to dive with those incredible animals.
Top 10 : Where can we swim or dive with large predator and incredible marine animals?