Open wide – Shark appears to swallow diver whole
Water way to go – this diver looks like they are about to be swallowed whole the world’s largest fish.
In fact, the harmless giant shark was opening wide to feast on plankton as it drifted past.
Whale sharks can grow up to 42 feet in length – making them the largest fish in the sea.
They live for up to 70 years in mostly tropical waters, slowing swimming through the oceans and filter feeding on plankton.
The beasts were photographed by 51-year-old underwater photography instructor Paul Duxfield off the Isla de Mujeres in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Paul, from Yorkshire, said: “The sharks come to the Yucatan Peninsula in the summer to gorge on huge quantities of plankton that is brought to the surface by upwellings from the deep water.
“Sometimes there are as many as two hundred of the ‘living dinosaurs’ slowly going about their business.
“The first time you see one up close it makes you feel extremely small, and I’m over six feet tall.
“They seem to move very slowly but it’s deceptive as when they go past you or bump into you it is a very strong reminder of just how big and powerful they are. You get caught up in the movement of the water.
“The students are always blown away by the scale and size of these sharks and it’s all they can do to concentrate on taking their pictures.
“We were particularly lucky on this day though as a drone had been sent up by researchers and there was apparently nearly 200 of them, but when you’re in the water with them you only see the one or two that are really close to you as the water is thick with plankton.
“In these shots it’s mostly other snorkelers who are in the frame, as we are strictly managed by our own boat to only two of us in at once.
“In all though it’s a lovely fun day out that anyone of any age can enjoy happy in the knowledge that they are not seeing captive creatures.
“I’ve dived with the sharks many times, but the best experiences are usually by simply snorkelling with them.
“In Mexico access to them is strictly controlled so as not to disturb them too much. The trips are very well managed. There are not dozens of people swarming the sharks.”