Whale Shark Live-Aboard Research Voyage

Just bring your snorkel and fins, and you can participate in a once-in-a-lifetime research project in the Sea of Cortez, supporting local marine biologists studying whale shark populations, sailing aboard our Catamaran El Mechudo. Like sharks everywhere, these animals are threatened, and this essential research contributes to the growing base of knowledge necessary to save them.

Observe these gentle giants up close as they feast on plankton in the rich, warm sea. During each whale shark encounter, you'll observe and assist our researchers in making photographic IDs, recording behaviors, and even obtaining DNA samples. Data on feeding zones, biology, genetics, and migratory patterns will be analyzed to promote global conservation of this threatened species. You will live aboard Catamaran El Mechudo comfortably, and you can hike, kayak, swim, and explore nature in between whale shark sightings. Your expedition is also supported by spotter seaplane El Peregrino, whose pilot keeps eyes peeled for whale sharks from the air. If you’re a scuba diver, bring your gear and jump on in!  This expedition is available in April.

Known locally as “toad fish,” the whale sharks grow to maturity feeding in the nursery of La Paz Bay before the females migrate to the deeper waters around Espiritu Santo Island to give birth.  


Dr. Dení Ramírez-Macías is a researcher and Director at Whale Shark México. She is a conservation biologist with a vision to promote and contribute to ocean conservation and sustainability by the integration of scientific research, sustainable management, environmental education, and inter-institutional collaboration. She started her study of the whale shark in the Gulf of California over ten years ago and continues with research that focuses on the migratory patterns of whale sharks in the Gulf of California and surrounding areas.  Dení has been working closely with the Mexican government in its program to protect and preserve the whale shark populations in Mexican waters, as well as training local tour operators in La Paz in order to create sustainable whale shark tourism.

Dr. James Ketchum is co-founder and Vice-President at Pelagios Kakunjá. He has been studying sharks and manta rays for the last fifteen years, with a particular focus on the ecology of the whale shark in the Gulf of California and the movements of the hammerhead shark in the Galapagos Islands.  He is currently studying the behavior of several species of sharks and pelagic fish in the Mexican Pacific and Tropical East Pacific. For several years James has been dedicated to ecotourism in the Gulf of California. He is a founding member of Migramar for the study of marine migratory species, as well as of Pelagios-Kakunjá, A.C.  He is also a former Baja Expeditions guide.

Baja Expeditions is pleased to be able to support the important work done by our collaborating scientists; as a guest, you will learn more about the world's largest fish and its preservation through presentations, dialogue, and hands-on collaboration.

Ready to start your Baja Expedition? Book your trip today!

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Trip Details

Start/End Destinations
Start: La Paz
End: La Paz

Wildlife Viewing & Research

Expedition Type
Eco-Adventure Live-Aboard

Age Range
Little Ones — Grandparents

Trip Rating
Easy — All Fitness Levels

 April 14-21
    April 21-28 - SOLD OUT

Trip Duration
8 days, 7 nights

Naturalist Guide/Dive Master, Boat Captain, Mariner/Chef

Support Vessel
Catamaran El Mechudo

Live-Aboard Catamaran El Mechudo

Itinerary Details

  • 4 Cabins available on board
  • USD $5200 per cabin for up to 6 guests (2 people/cabin)
  • USD $4780 for 4th cabin, sharing head (restroom) w/ crew
  • USD $750 for extra person in cabin 1 or 2 (these cabins sleep up to 3)
  • Minimum: 6 guests for trip to go; Maximum: 10 guests (Questions? Contact us!)
  • Our flexible itineraries are designed to change with weather, tides and animals' habits
  • Our main objective is to locate female whale sharks and support research protocols
  • Visit coastline and Islands of La Paz — common anchorages include: Espiritu Santo Island, Los Islotes, Santa Cruz Island, and San José Island
  • Spend first night aboard Catamaran El Mechudo at dock; AM departure
  • Includes final night hotel accommodation; Catamaran El Mechudo returns to La Paz in afternoon

Gear Provided

Expedition gear, plus equipment for kayak, SUP, snorkel, and bird watching; for scuba diving, weights and tanks are provided

Food & Drinks

  • Local seafood, Mexican & International cuisine
  • Local fresh juices and waters
  • Cerveza, wine, spirits by request — in moderation

Other Cool Stuff

  • Kayak and paddleboard use at anchorages
  • Bird watching
  • Day hiking
  • Want to see more?  Visit our Photo Gallery
  • Your ticket price directly subsidizes whale shark research
  • Citizen Scientist bragging rights
  • Any additional contributions you may want to make to preserve Wild Baja are greatly appreciated and tax deductible!

What Should You Bring?

  • Personal clothes and gear:
    ~April & May: layers for sun, heat and wind*
    (*detailed packing list in Welcome Packet)
  • Diving? Bring: your personal BCD & regulator, dive computer, mask, fins, wetsuit
  • Camera
  • Willingness to explore
  • Art supplies, if desired
  • Gratuities for BE team at your discretion


Ready to start your Baja Expedition? Book your trip today! Get Started