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Gladden Split/Spit - Belize

Gladden Split/Spit is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Placencia, Belize. This dive site has an average rating of 5.00 out of 5 from 1 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 51-60ft/16-18m. The average visibility is 41-50ft/12-15m.

Belize Map;

Gladden map;

Gladen Split/Silk Cayes Silk Cayes Silk Cayes Silk Cayes 0 The Gladden Split & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve lies within the central region of the Barrier Reef about 36 km off the coast of Placencia Village. This area of Barrier Reef contains the best-developed and most continuous reef due to its elevation, good water quality, and modified wave regime. The southernmost tip of this area sticks out and is called The Elbow or Gladden Spit. Three small cayes – North Silk, Middle Silk and South Silk – lie south of Gladden Entrance just inside Queen Caye. A colony of terns has been recorded to nest on North Silk Caye. Since the 1920s, fishermen have congregated at Gladden Spit on the Belize Barrier Reef to harvest mutton snapper and grouper during the ten-day period around full moon during the months of March to June. The fishermen often landed huge catches, and many of the fish were gravid (carrying eggs). Often the men noticed huge whale sharks swimming nearby, usually surrounded by milkiness in the water. In 1997, a team of scientists and local fishermen found that the snappers came together to spawn, filling the water with milky eggs and sperm, and that the whale sharks filter feeders had come to eat the eggs a combination of events that is both biologically important and thrilling. Mutton snappers, the most common commercial fin fish harvested in Belize, appear from March to June, during the same months as the Cubera snappers and Dog snappers. The latter two species produce particularly large, tasty eggs, which seems to be one of the primary motives for the presence of the whale sharks. Some local tour operators from Placencia, the closest village to Gladden Spit, soon discovered the tourism potential of the predictable presence of whale sharks, and a new industry quickly grew up. In 2001, the site of the whale sharks was declared a protected area, Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR). In 2002, Friends of Nature, now SEA, began to co-manage the reserve along with the Government of Belize. SEA manages whale shark tourism at Gladden Spit in Belize, with direct input from a whale shark working group made up of national stakeholders. Sets of guidelines to ensure a safe and ecologically-sound experience for everyone, including the whale sharks, have been developed.

For their sheer size and magnitude, whale sharks are one of the most thrilling big animals to encounter in any ocean. And several Caribbean locales are among the most reliable and prolific spots on the planet to get in the water with them. During the full moon from March through June, spawning snapper aggregations at Gladden Spit in Belize draw whale sharks to the area to gorge on gametes as divers watch from below. And while Holbox might be Mexico’s best-known spot for snorkeling with whale sharks, the deeper-feeding waters of Isla Mujeres bring encounters with animals up to 50 feet long as they feed on bonito spawn (June is the best time, but the season runs to September). The spring months are best for snorkeling with whale sharks in Utila, but this Bay Island destination is reportedly the only place on Earth with confirmed sightings every month of the year. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Splash Dive Center ( in Placencia, Belize, offers whale-shark dives for $210 and snorkeling for $110.
Whale Shark Snorkeling
and Diving Regulations

  • Dive and snorkel boats will be limited to 1.5 hour time slots, reduced from 2 hours
  • Dive and snorkel boats must be out of the whale shark zone by 5:00 PM
  • Only 6 dive and/or snorkel boats will be permitted inside the whale shark interaction area.
  • Time slots for dive and snorkel boats are determined by a public lottery
  • Boat captains must attend whale shark certification courses as well as guides and dive masters
  • Dive and snorkel guides must brief tourists on regulations before entering the whale shark zone
  • Each boat in the whale shark interaction area may carry a maximum of 12 divers and/or snorkelers
  • The whale shark conservation fee is US$15 per person for non-Belizean nationals.
  • Whale shark boats must have ratio of at least 1 dive master for every 8 scuba divers and 1 snorkel guide for every 8 snorkelers. If a boat carries a mix of snorkelers and divers, the tour operator must have a dive master AND a snorkeling guide on-board. The captain may NOT count as a guide/dive master.

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