Big Animals – Sailfish, Mexico
Sailfish can move at speeds faster than 68 mph, making them the fastest swimmers in the world. They’re named after their deep blue dorsal fin which extends when the fish are feeding, excited, or feeling threatened. There’s nothing like watching a school of sailfish devour a bait ball of sardines. As they feed their vibrant colors change from black to purple, silver, and light and dark blues as photographers try to capture them all.
ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO
Boats take snorkelers and freedivers offshore in search of diving birds, which will be feeding on bait balls. The sailfish will be feeding on the sardines from below and it can be a high-paced race trying to keep up with moving bait balls. Waters are usually clear and as the bait balls are near the surface there is plenty of light.
When to Dive
January through March.
Keeping up with the ocean’s fastest swimmer is hard work. Improving your cardio through regular exercise and training in the months before your expedition will improve your in-water endurance.
Streamlining is the name of the game. Since the bait balls are constantly moving, you will be hopping in and out of your boat to catch up. Use snorkel equipment until you are comfortable getting on and off in a rush.
If the bait ball is moving, consider leaving the strobes behind. While strobes will likely help your images, they will create drag and slow you down. For stable bait balls, strobes can be used to freeze and illuminate this colorful predator.—Matt Weiss
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