Whaleshark swim

On May 3, 2008 we went out with Exmouth dive centre to swim with the whalesharks.  They are at Ningaloo from about April to July each year.  It appears that only immature males come to Ningaloo and no one knows why.  There is lots of info on the web about the whale sharks.  some useful sites are  http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/species/sharks/whaleshark/index.html , http://www.exmouthwa.com.au/pages/whale-sharks/ , http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/rec/broc/fishcard/whaleshk.html .

Our day started at 07:30 with a pick up from our motel, NIngaloo Lodge.  We were taken to Exmouth Dive Centre to prepare our gear.  Then it's a detailed briefing and into the bus for the 40min trip across to Tantabidi where our boat Concord is moored.  We all pitch in to move the tanks and gear from the trailer into the tender.  Then we are on board and off for our dive.  This is at a site called Floats, not far from Tantabidi.  Those that don't dive have a snorkel. 

The spotter plane goes up at 10am.  We were really lucky.  We were just back on board from our dive and we were told that a whale shark had been spotted near by.  A mad scramble as we sort out our gear and get ready for our first encounter.  We are split into 2 groups of 10 each.  That is the maximum number of swimmers allowed with a whaleshark at one time.  Each group has a spotter.  The spotters job is to show us where the whaleshark is and give us direction.  We should have 5 swimmers each side of the shark and it swims between us.  We all line up seated on the deck of the boat and wait for the call.  "Go go go" and we all scramble into the water and swim off in the direction we are told.  And then suddenly coming towards us is a 6m whaleshark.  It is unconcerned by our presence and swims at what looks like a sedate pace - about a metre below the surface.  We kick like mad to keep up and I find that the drag from the camera slows me down quite a bit.  We are not allowed to be in front of the pectoral fins, not dive below the whaleshark.  These areas can disturb the whaleshark and it will dive, spoiling our encounter.  It is quite mind blowing to swim with such a large animal, and this one, at 6m is adolescent.    We swim for as long as we can and then the spotter calls for us to stop and group up. 

As soon as we are dropped off the boat motors away.  It heads for a point much further ahead of the whaleshark ready to drop the second group off.  Once they are gone, the boat comes back for us.  We scramble back on and wait for our next turn.  I did 7 snorkels and Jenny 6.  On several of the snorkels the whaleshark is feeding with it's mouth wide open.  I got a nice video of this one.  It's 5.5Mb in size.  It you want a copy e-mail me and I will e-mail it back.

The last one was with a very small juvenile - only 2.5m.  It actually swam up to the boat and nudged it before turning.  It was a beauty, still quite fast.  Sadly after several encounters it dived and we could not find it again. 

Of course we are well fed on this trip.  Lunch is smorgasbord cold meat and a good variety of salads.  After lunch time for a snorkel before we head home. What a wonderful experience.  It really is a once in a life time experience.

Whaleshark swim
West Coast 02-05-08
Murion Islands  04-05-08
Lighthouse Bay 05-05-08
Sea Kayaking 06-05-08
Monkey Mia 30-04-08
Floats 03-05-08





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This site was last updated 06/07/09