Throwing Up On Whale Sharks in the Indian Ocean

The title isn’t a lie. That did actually happen. But let me give you some back story first…

We arrived in the country of Mozambique on the night of 5 September and moved into the most gorgeous little lodges located right on the beach in Barra. Our whole trip was located in malarial zones so in addition to the medication I took (and have to continue taking for 3 more weeks), bug spray and long pants were vital at night when the bugs are most active. My bed had a beautiful mosquito net draped over it, and it was the first time in my life where I’ve actually used the canopy for a purpose other than it being cute.

The next morning a group of girls and I decided to go on an “Ocean Safari.” And boy did it not disappoint!

We were fitted for snorkels, masks and fins and hopped into the boat. We were on the Indian Ocean and it was quite a rocky ride getting our boat into the water. It involved lots of screaming, holding on for dear life and getting soaking wet. My friends and I all live in the same building in Cape Town, so it was a great bonding experience! We were all laughing and have an amazing time cruising our new, warm waters.

Suddenly our guides stopped the motor and pointed. We found our first whale! It was tiny, and I didn’t believe our guide when he said it was a Humpback… until the momma whale splashed her tail right next to the baby. It was a beautiful sight to behold as we sat in our boat probably only 20 yards from the creatures.

And this is where I start to feel sick.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I get major cases of motion sickness. Of course my stomach wanted to keep with that trend. Rocking with the waves on the ocean in a TINY, inflatable boat isn’t exactly what I’d call “smooth sailing.” Once we turned the motor on and started moving I would feel a lot better… but as soon as we saw a whale we’d stop so we could watch for a while. We saw A LOT of whales. So there was A LOT of stopping. And yes, A LOT of throwing up…

My friends love to recall the sight of me throwing up over the side of the boat, crying out in delight at seeing a whale breach, and then go back to throwing up. What can I say? I wanted to be a marine biologist in elementary school and had an encyclopedia of dolphins and whales… I wasn’t going to let a little seasickness stop me!

After a seemingly endless array of humpback whales, we found a whale shark!!! We all scrambled to put on our fins and snorkels and were so desperate to hop in the water that my friend Brooke straight up belly-flopped. However, that did put her in perfect position to view the gorgeous whale shark right up close. I can’t describe the feeling I had when I saw the whale shark underwater for the first time. First of all they are humongous. All were much larger than our boat (which isn’t really saying that much). They also have gorgeous white spots all over their backs, which is where they get their name in most languages (in Madagascar the name is “marokintana” meaning “many stars”).

Unfortunately after my initial, and most wonderful, encounter with the whale shark I needed to get back on that boat. My tummy cooperated just enough to let me have my moment and then decided I was done. After that I sat on the boat with my head over the edge to search for more whale sharks… and throw up some more. At one point it came directly under me and the boat… and right into my line of fire (hence the post name). Oops.

I made it all the way back to the shore in one piece. But dang I was happy to be back on land. If any of you have seen the Vin Diesel movie “The Pacifier” where the girl runs out of the car after he drives like the maniac and screams “LAAAAND!”… that is exactly what I did.

Would I do it again?

Of course!! Every minute was worth it. How many chances do you have in your life to get so close to humpback whales and literally swim with whale sharks? Not many.

PS: Sorry if I talked about throwing up too much for your liking in this post. I find the story hilarious… I hope y’all did too. It was too good not to share all of the details!!

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