Swimming with the Whale Sharks
This was very special. I think it’s worth a post all to itself!
The Whale Shark is the largest FISH in the ocean. They can reach 18 metres although this is rare. Typically a big one is a mere 12 metres! They eat small fish and plancton and are not dangerous.
Whales are bigger but they are mammels.
I was very lucky to see one. They had not seen any Whale Sharks in the past week so i was warned it was probable we wouldn’t see one. The arrangement is that if you DON’T see a Whale Shark you can come back another day….
The boat sets off and a spotter plane searches an area of about 50 square kilometres. Whilst they are doing that, we did some snorkling over the Ningaloo Reef.
We saw sharks, turtles, sting rays and lots of colourful fish.
Suddenly all hell broke loose….they had spotted a whale Shark some 25 miles away.
We were told to get back in the boat pronto. The boat then took off at maximum speed to reach the whale Shark.. All very exciting!
Whale Sharks are solitary fish. Not a lot is known about their migration habits. It seems to vary. Not many have been successfully tagged apparently
We were given instructions on what to do and not to do. For example…if the whale Shark is coming towards you…..you must get out of the way QUICKLY as they won’t dodge you.
Photo – the briefing
Eventually we reached the Whale Shark. They are unlike whales in that they don’t come up for air so they are hard to spot.
When we eventually reached him/her, one of the crew jumped in ahead of the Whale Shark and determines its direction. We are then called into the water and told to WATCH OUT!
The moment arrived and in we went!
And within a few seconds there he/she was…We were within a couple of meters from the Whale Shark. it looked enormous. It took no notice of us and swam on at a leisurly pace. It couldn’t care less!
They swim faster than us so after a few minutes we were called back into the boat and the whole operation was repeated.
Altogether we had about five dives. I was exhausted but it was a fantastic experience.
A note of caution should you visit Coral Bay or Exmouth to do a Whale Shark tour. Some have a spotter plane supporting 3-4 boats. In our case there was one boat and one spotter plane. In other words we had the Whale Shark to ourselves. I think it would have been chaos if there had been three or four boats chasing the same Whale Shark