NINGALOO WHALE SHARKS
Coral Bay, Western Australia
Type of dive: Reef
Access: Boat only (20 minutes)
Minimum qualification: Snorkelling only
Visibility: 5-20 metres (15-60’)
Water temperature: 24°C (75°F) – 28°C (83°F)
Best time to visit: March – July (Seasonal)
Snorkelling: Yes, phenomenal!
Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, are the largest fish in the oceans.
They are the largest non-mammalian vertebrates and only some species of whale are bigger.
Individuals average over nine metres (30’) in length and weigh up to nine tonne (20,000lb), the largest recorded individual was 12.65 metres (41.5’). They have been known to live some 70 years.
They are large, long-living, slow-moving pelagic fish and inhabit the world’s warmer tropical and sub-temperate open seas. Whale sharks are filter feeders, feeding on small marine organisms such as krill and plankton which is the main component of their diet.
Whale sharks have been exploited by many cultures and are classified as a threatened species.
In 2003 whale sharks were added to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in an effort to regulate international trade of whale shark product.
Western Australia’s World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is one of the most accessible places in the world where humans can interact with whale sharks.
Ningaloo Reef is one of the world’s biggest fringing coral reefs and is around 300 kilometres (185 miles) long. As it runs just a few metres off shore Ningaloo Reef offers great easily accessible snorkelling where snorkellers can experience an infinite number of dive sites and take in the abundant diverse tropical marine life on offer.
Whale sharks are docile and non-threatening, and diving with these magnificent gentle giants of the deep is absolutely exhilarating.
The start of the Ningaloo Whale Shark season coincides with the annual March/April coral spawning season and runs for around four months.
As well the whale sharks, divers will experience lots of fish, turtles and reef sharks, and dugongs are regularly sighted.
Encounters with humpback whales and mantra rays are not uncommon in the latter half of the whale shark season.
A whale shark experience is an absolute must for any underwater adventurer.
Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair
Other great Australian animal dives:
Great White Sharks, Burrunan Dolphins, Montegue Island Seals, Dragon Rock Sharks, Mantra Ray Bommie, Dwarf Minke Whales, Cod Hole, North Horn Shark Feed and Raine Island Turtles.