Bay of La Paz, Gulf of California — Jumping into the Sea of Cortez to swim alongside a whale shark is like being in a National Geographic documentary. The massive fish looms out of the murk, swimming toward you with huge mouth agape. Just when you imagine you might be sucked Jonah-like down the gullet of the world’s biggest fish, the shark corrects course enough to glide by within a hand’s reach, like a great big bus easing into the traffic lane next to you.
That’s how I experienced my first (and quite likely only) encounter with this behemoth of the sea. I was with the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE) on a field inspection in the southern part of Mexico’s Baja California. The committee was there last week to see the places and projects it has funded in the region, receive reports from grantees, and to assess how one of the most beautiful and diverse parts of the planet is doing in the face of urban development, growing tourism, and climate change. (National Geographic Undertakes Science