Swim with Whale Sharks in Western Australia
By Rachel Pinder
Growing up to 16 metres long, whale sharks are attracted to Ningaloo’s warm, pristine water after the mass spawning of coral in March each year.
Whale sharks migrate to the area to feed on krill, while tourists from far and wide visit to experience the incredible thrill of swimming alongside these gentle giants.
The Ningaloo Marine Park
in Western Australia’s Coral Coast has recently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and is considered one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks.
Whale shark tours are offered between mid March until early August and sometimes into September if whale sharks are still in the area.
New Zealander Ben Walkley had the time of his life swimming with whale sharks at the start of the season in early April.
"We went whale sharking with the Ningaloo Dreaming
crew, whose point of difference is that they have their own spotter plane.
"After a warm up snorkel/dive we headed out to whale shark country down the coast. We snorkelled with three different whale sharks," Ben said.
"These creatures are amazing, they are so placid in the water. The ones we swam with were swimming slowly just cruizing through the water, which made it easy to keep up with them.
"The are sharks - not whales, so they don't make noise. Mostly junvenile males come down here to the area to feed on plankton and possibly the coral bloom.
"It's a must do experience for anyone," Ben added.
Australia’s Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, Mr David O’Malley said a record number of people swam with whale sharks in 2011.
"More than 17,400 people swam with whale sharks last year, representing an increase of 18 per cent from 2010," Mr O’Malley said.
"We are optimistic that 2012 will prove to be another highly successful season, with people from all corners of the globe expected to converge on Exmouth
and Coral Bay
to swim with these graceful marine giants.
"Ningaloo continues to consolidate its reputation as being one of the most easily accessible and reliable places in the world to swim with whale sharks.
"Swimming with whale sharks is an awe inspiring experience and should be on everyone’s bucket list."
FACTFILE: Ningaloo Reef region of Western Australia
Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
is a paradise for snorkellers and divers. Regarded as one of the last great ocean paradises on earth, it is Australia’s largest fringing reef and lies just metres from the shore in many places, so you can snorkel straight off the beach.
The world-famous Ningaloo Marine Park
that protects the reef stretches 300 kilometres along Western Australia’s coast, from Bundegi Reef near Exmouth to Red Bluff, 140 kilometres north of Carnarvon.
Here you can dive and snorkel with a breathtaking array of tropical fish over coral gardens, relax on pristine secluded beaches and experience the incredible thrill of swimming with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.