Shark Research Institute Expeditions

Observing sharks in their natural environment is a truly amazing experience. Observing sharks in their natural environment with real shark experts takes that experience to a whole new level.

As part of our ethos of education, we offer a limited number of expeditions every year. Each small group excursion is led by scientists from SRI and others. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience sharks in the wild with likeminded people who share your passion for these awe-inspiring animals.

We hope you join us for an adventure you’ll remember forever.

Hammerhead shark banner image © Paul Spielvogel

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2019 Expeditions

Dr. Jennifer Schmidt working (click to see larger). Photo by Marie-Elizabeth Mali.

WHALE SHARKS OF THE AFUERA

The largest aggregation of whale sharks in the world, the “afuera,” occurs each June through August off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The sharks amass to feed on dense patches of fish eggs, making this the rare place where you can see and photograph whale sharks in blue water. Truly a wonder to behold.

Two separate five-day expeditions are being offered, each including three-days of snorkeling with the sharks. The trips are led by Dr. Jennifer Schmidt, the Shark Research Institute’s Director of Science and Research, who has extensive experience working with whale sharks for nearly 20 years. Whale shark interactions are snorkel-only by Mexican regulations (for the protection of the animals), but excellent scuba diving and many other activities are available before or after the trip.

These expeditions will fill quickly, so reserve your place now.

Dates
Expedition #1 - July 24‐28, 2019
Expedition #2 - July 30‐August 3, 2019

Location
Mexico, east of Cancun, in the Caribbean Sea

Cost
$1,400 per person includes: 4 nights double-occupancy hotel in Cancun; 3 days of whale shark interactions; lectures on whale sharks by Dr. Schmidt; snorkeling at Isla Mujeres; and, lunch on whale shark days.

Each traveler is responsible for their own airfare, airport transfers and meals (except lunch on whale shark days). The single supplement is $200. A $500 deposit is required to hold your place. All payments are nonrefundable. Travel and dive insurance are required.

 

DJIBOUTI WHALE SHARK EXPEDITION

Join this expedition led by SRI Director of Science and Research, Dr. Jennifer Schmidt, to study the whale sharks that aggregate in the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, Africa. Djibouti hosts an aggregation of the youngest whale sharks found anywhere. Most sharks are between three-and-five meters with two-meter animals occasionally seen. Participants will act as research assistants, documenting whale sharks by photo identification, collecting and analyzing plankton samples and hopefully observing night-feeding behavior. Research goals are to understand where these animals come from, why young sharks congregate in the area, and where they go when they leave.

Our home for this liveaboard expedition is the M/V Deli, a Turkish gulet that accommodates 12 people in shared rooms with private baths. The chef prepares a daily menu of local and continental cuisine. Whale shark interactions are snorkel only, but excellent diving is available from the boat at sites such as Ras Korali, Turtle Point, Moucha Island, and La Faille, a convergence of tectonic plates. Whale shark interactions and diving are available each day, and participants may choose any combination of activities.

The site is remote and accommodations basic, but the experience is unmatched. Share this unique wildlife expedition to a stark and beautiful corner of the world.

Date
December 6-14, 2019

Location
Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, Africa

Cost
$2,200 per person includes: shared accommodation on the boat, double occupancy hotel for the nights of December 6-14, all meals on the ship, hotel and port transfers, and a tax-deductible donation to the Shark Research Institute. Please be aware that payments made through PayPal will incur an additional $50 per person processing fee.

Each traveler is responsible for their own airfare, Djibouti visa, soda and beer, and meals off the ship. Post-trip excursions are available to explore the geologic formations and vast salt lakes of the East African rift valley. A $500 deposit is required to hold your space. All payments are non-refundable. Travel and dive insurance are required.


Past Expeditions

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DJIBOUTI WHALE SHARK RESEARCH EXPEDITION

Join this expedition led by SRI Director of Science & Research Dr. Jennifer Schmidt to study the whale sharks that aggregate in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Djibouti hosts a fascinating aggregation of the youngest whale sharks found anywhere; most sharks are between 3 and 5 meters, with 2‐meter animals occasionally seen. Participants will act as research assistants, documenting whale sharks by photo identification, collecting and analyzing plankton samples and hopefully observing night feeding behavior. Research goals are to understand where these animals come from, why young sharks congregate in the area, and where they go when they leave.

Our home for this live-aboard trip is the M/Y Deli, a Turkish gulet that accommodates 12 people in shared rooms with private baths. The chef prepares a daily menu of local and continental cuisine. Whale shark interactions are snorkel only, but excellent diving is available from the boat at sites such as Ras Korali, Turtle Point, Moucha Island, and La Faille, a convergence of tectonic plates. Whale shark interactions and diving are available each day, and participants may choose any combination of activities.

Date
November 30-December 8, 2018

Location
Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, Africa

Cost
$2,200 includes shared accommodation on the boat, double occupancy hotel for the nights of November 30th and December 7th, all meals on the ship, hotel and port transfers, and a tax-deductible donation to the Shark Research Institute. Not included are airfare, Djibouti visa, soda and beer, and meals off the ship. Post‐trip excursions are available to explore the geologic formations and vast salt lakes of the East African rift valley.

The site is remote, and accommodations basic, but the experience is unmatched. Share this unique wildlife expedition to a stark and beautiful corner of the world.


Women Researchers in Science – Journey to the Sea of Cortez

Join Shark Research Institute researchers Jennifer Schmidt and Dave Grant on this live-aboard expedition to the Gulf of California, a collaboration with Tiburon Ballena Mexico. Our ship will depart La Paz for 10 days among the blue waters and red cliffs of the Sea of Cortez. We are targeting the very large and usually pregnant female whale sharks that frequent these waters. Why do these females come to this place, and where do they go when they leave? We know so little about whale shark breeding and reproduction. One of the goals of the week will be to perform ultrasound examinations of the females, with the hope of visualizing the embryos they carry.

We will also study the other sharks that live in the Gulf of California. Planned activities include catch and release tagging of silky and hammerhead sharks, mobula ray population studies, and visiting local fish markets to assess the species being harvested in the area. In our research “downtime” we will search for whales (humpback, Sei and fin), kayak into the mangroves, visit frigate bird breeding colonies, and snorkel with sea lions. There is also the possibility for an ultralight flight over the Sea of Cortez as you assist in scanning for whale sharks.

The Shark Research Institute encourages college students and early career researchers to participate in this project and to seek credit and funding through their department; and suggests participants reach out to others for financial support through social media.

Date
May 4-13, 2018

Location
Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California

Cost
$2,995 all-inclusive on the ship, but does not cover air travel to Cabo San Lucas, crew gratuity, one evening meal in La Paz, travel insurance or the cost of the ultralight flight.

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DJIBOUTI WHALE SHARK RESEARCH EXPEDITION

Spaces are available to join this expedition led by the Shark Research Institute and Sharkwatch Arabia, supporting the ongoing research of the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles. The week-long trip will study the whale sharks that aggregate in the Gulf of Tadjoura; Djibouti hosts the smallest and youngest whale shark population found anywhere. Participants will serve as research assistants, documenting whale sharks by photo identification, collecting and analyzing plankton samples and observing night feeding behavior. Our home for this liveaboard trip is the M/Y Deli, a Turkish gulet that accommodates 12 people in shared rooms with individual baths. Whale shark interactions are snorkel only, but excellent diving is available from the boat.

Date
January 5-13, 2018

Location
Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, Africa

Cost
$2,200 double occupancy includes shared accommodation on the boat, double occupancy hotel for the nights of January 5th and 12th at the Sheraton Djibouti, all meals on the boat, transfers to and from the port and a tax-deductible donation to the Shark Research Institute.