Backstory - Whale sharks off the Yucatan

As we set out from Isla Holbox the sea was rough and the weather poor. Fortunately at the last minute I had brought my waterproof sailing holdall and I sealed all my gear inside -- as the rain lashed down and waves washed over the bow of the boat.

It was four (wet) hours before we saw the first whale shark and the sighting was poor. The choppy churned-up water meant the creature looked like little more than a shadow beneath the surface.

It had been a frustrating first day. That evening I shot GVs of the island, fishing boats, various characters on the pier and beach antics. If I was not going to have decent whale shark footage I was at least going to secure some colourful island life.

When I awoke on day two I breathed a sigh of relief at the clear skies and sunny weather. Within an hour or two at sea I clinched the money shot: the entire length of a whale shark with its fin and tail breaking the surface of the water. The creature swam back and forth seeming to flaunt its size. Then it moved towards a highly plankton-rich area of the sea -- its feeding ground -- and became difficult to view in the murky water. No longer able to film well I jumped in and swam with the whale shark myself. Over the years I have learnt when to ditch the gear and have some fun on the job.

On the third and final day I switched from a private tour -- with its greater flexibility -- to a group tour, which can often be more colourful. I hoped to show more of the interactions between tourists and whale sharks. Again, the creatures fully cooperated and we had a string of successful sightings.

Filming wildlife always requires a dose of luck. That said the more days you are out filming, the more opportunities present themselves.

I cannot end without mentioning the aggressive oversized mosquitoes on Isla Holbox. I always try to capture a sunrise and/or a sunset which can offer a classic opening or closing shot to a story. However it was at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes of Isla Holbox rose up with one aim. That may have been my biggest battle of them all: not filming the largest fish in the sea but fending off insects not much bigger than plankton. And I’m still itching.