Whale shark ahead - Go Go Go
Ningaloo Reef Travel Blog› entry 9 of 25 › view all entries
One of the main reasons to go up to Exmouth is to join along on one of the whale shark tours going out to the reef during the season. It is getting a bit late in the season now so there are no more whale sharks down at Coral Bay so the only place in all f the Oz to see them this time of year is up here at the very tip of the country.
I join up at a trip leaving for the reef pretty early in the morning. We drive down along the road on the same road I took yesterday to the national park. There are just not a lot of roads to choose from around this area. We get to the boats where we get ferried out to the boat. We have to go in three trips because the little dingy is a bit small.
We leave just after a quick security briefing which includes the usual pointing out of all the emergency exits on the boat - which is anywhere you can see the water - and an introduction to Brits and Irish to the yellow thing in the sky called the sun.
Our first stop is inside the reef. Where the crew on the boat just wanna make sure everybody can actually swim. So we jump in the water and go for the reef. The coral in this area isn’t really very interesting and there are not a lot of fish either. But there are many turtles. And you can’t really complain about a snorkeling trip where you see several turtles.
After we leave the turtles we go out a bit further to the outer reef. To actually spot the whale sharks there are a spotter plane up circling the area for a while.
We get into the water and snorkel with the mantas - they are moving quite fast so it is a hard snorkel trip to keep up with the manta. But the water here is much clearer than the water back in Coral Bay. So now it is easy to see the manta down in the water. The manta is swimming by and I can see the dark over side of the manta as it swim by with its mouth wide open to filter the water to get all the tiny coral eggs and other particles in the water.
Getting back on the boat is a bit different from other snorkel and diving trips I have tried before.
When we are back on the boat they soon spot the first of the whale sharks. And we speed up to be the first boat at the whale shark. We finally make it and get to the whale shark and we are told to get our snorkeling gear on quickly. This way of snorkeling isn’t relaxing like it usually is - you need to hurry all the time.
I get into the water and I can’t see the whale shark anywhere. So I just start swimming quickly straight ahead towards the spotter. And right there and then. A massive fish is coming towards me. This may only be a baby male - but at five meters in length and a couple of meters across it is still way bigger than any other fish I have ever seen. The whale shark is swimming quietly towards me and I go to its side and start swimming along with it.
The whale shark is not travelling alone. Under it is a lot of fish swimming along getting a free ride and some protections from dangerous animals around. If some of these fish were travelling by themselves they would actually be considered quite big - but when they are here under the giant they look tiny.
After a while the whale shark has had enough and dives down. Then we start to look for a new one. While we wait we spot a couple of humpback whales in the distance and just after a big group of dolphins start to circle around the boat for a while.
Then the plane find another whale shark and we get ready again. It is the same sort of drill with orders given more like we are a group of navy seals than a group of tourist.
After snorkeling for a while it is time to get to get back on the boat and once more we are all great by shouts of get back on the boat quickly. We go into the water a couple of more times and the second whale shark is disappearing.
We don’t find any more whale sharks so we start sailing back towards the inner reef having lunch as we go along. After lunch we go for a last snorkel at the inner reef. This is a very different snorkeling trip because this time there are no one standing at the back of the boat shouting at you to hurry up. You can just go in the water at your own leisure. The place is nice there are a lot of corals and the usual coral fish. So this last spot is a nice complement to the other snorkels of the day making it all a complete trip.