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darryl leniuk The Globe and Mail

What's the deal?

Swim with the biggest fish in the sea.

Where's it at?

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Though the name suggests both mammal and fish, whale sharks are indeed sharks. These bus-size behemoths, found in tropical waters around the globe, can reach more than 12 metres in length and weigh 34 tonnes. Whale sharks are gentle giants, filter feeders that prefer small fish and plankton to people. They often swim with their massive mouths agape to hoover up their prey. Seeing one up close will leave you spellbound and feeling like Jonah.

Head to tiny Utila, in the Bay Islands of Honduras, for a chance to get up close and personal ( utiladivecenter.com). Since they're normally at the surface, and move swiftly, you'll use snorkelling, not scuba, gear. Once your boat captain spots a whale shark, he'll drop you in position in front of it. As the giant head comes out of the blue toward you, move out of the way and be aware of the powerful tail. As you swim alongside, you'll see the stunning play of light on the shark's spotted pattern. Big can be beautiful too. Soon, though, your muscles will start burning and you'll be out of breath as you struggle to keep up. This is an animal encounter you have to work for.

Who's it for?

Those who like getting a workout while communing with nature's largest creatures.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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