Vacation Idea: Play Tag With the Sharks

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Looking for an adventure during your beach vacation?

A Los Angeles-based non-profit organization is looking for people willing to swim with whale sharks.

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species on the planet. They can  grow to up to 40 feet long, weigh up to 15 tons and live up to 70 years.  Although they have very large mouths, they are harmless, feeding solely on  plankton, which are microscopic marine plants and animals.

Iemanya Oceanica is organizing a shark-tagging research expedition to  Baja California next month and is seeking up to 20 scuba divers/snorkelers from  Southern California to help. Iemanya -- named after a Brazilian goddess of the sea -- partnering with  the CICESE Research Institute in Baja and Dr. Rachel T. Graham, a world- renowned shark scientist, will travel to a known population of whale sharks in  Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja California.

Their goal is to apply satellite tags to two to three whale sharks  during the five-day expedition, departing from the Los Angeles area on Oct. 15.

Iemanya Executive Director Laleh Mohajerani said the expedition has  three goals, the first being to track the sharks' feeding, breeding and calving  habits.

"The second reason will enable us to add them to the `family' of sharks  that we feature on our Web site to expand consumer knowledge  about sharks," she said. "And lastly, these efforts play into a global effort  to increase public awareness of the urgent need for protecting our oceans  through selecting sustainable seafood in their diets."

The expedition will be filmed by professionals from Dokument Films in  Los Angeles, using their experience at increasing public awareness of  nonprofits through the use of professional productions for educational  purposes.

Sponsored by Redondo Beach-based Body Glove International, National  Scholastic Surfing Association champion Holly Beck will join the team to learn  more about preserving the oceans in which she spends most of her time.

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