Swimming with Whale Sharks

After talking to the children and a couple of days of snorkelling in Coral Bay we decided to extend our stay a bit longer and booked onto a swim with the ‘whale shark’ adventure to ensure we had good conditions out on the boat we booked when the swell was lowest. We chose Ningaloo Reef Dive as they had the biggest best equipped boat and they were not going to charge us for Bianca as she is only 4 and we were not sure that she or Holly would want to get into the big blue ocean and swim with a big fish.

Ningaloo Reef Boat

Ningaloo Reef Boat

Wet suits for the adventure into open water

Wet suits for the adventure into open water

We had be at the dive shop by 730am ( a challenge in itself with three kids under 9), we got our wet suits fitted and then on the bus out to the boat and onto the boat by 830. Then we had short boat ride out to the edge of the reef to a lovely coral formation to have a ‘trial snorkel’ and the children were all keen to jump into the crystal clear water. It was approx. 5-6 metres deep and the reef was alive with lots of brightly coloured fish and we were also lucky enough to see some turtles and two 1.5metre reef sharks. Holly nearly jumped on my back when we saw two reef sharks cooly swimming below and through her snorkel shouted “SHARK” but when I the okay signal she was keen to snorkel above them and observe. Aaron also loved seeing the reef sharks.

Aaron Holly and Mum after a snorkel

Aaron Holly and Mum after a snorkel

On the way to find the whale shark

On the way to find the whale shark

The ‘whale sharks’ are poorly names as they are neither a whale or a shark – they do not breath on the surface they have gills like a fish and they are not a shark – they have no sharp teeth they are filter feeders like the whales. They do have a large dorsal fin looks a bit like a shark but whilst big they don’t look very scary up close like the real sharks because they don’t have any teeth.

Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo reef every year to feed o plankton and other small fish in the area however we were told there is not very much known about them globally. They are harmless to humans and can vary in size from 3 metres to 17 metres in length – although the big ones swim too fast.

Aaron was loving the snorkeling and happily swam off giving chase to a turtles we found one poor Turtle had a broken shell and only three paddles (legs) – this made us feel happier about three legged Turtle at the Aquarium near Denham. Bianca was great watching the action snorkeling too but she got colder faster – the smallest full body wet suits were size 6 so she was in two spring wet suits. Whilst snorkelling we saw turtles, reef sharks, lots of fish, and on the boat we spotted dolphins, a sea snake to add to the excitement.

Fish and coral

Fish and coral

Coral on ningaloo

Coral on ningaloo

School of fish on the Ningaloo

School of fish on the Ningaloo

After the first snorkel it was back on board and waiting for the aerial plane to find us a whale shark. Ningaloo Reef Dive have their own spotter plane which circles around until a whale shark is spotted then the boat heads over to the location and the swim with the whale shark begins.

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Whilst waiting for the whale sharks the boat circles around the outer reef. It was very calm only 1metre swell however both Holly and I started to feel less than 100% so we lay down on deck. At 10.30 we got the call that a whale shark had been spotted and the boat zoomed off. The marine parks have established guidelines for tour operators for a maximum of 10 people in the water and you need to be 2metres from head of the fish and minimum of 4 metres from the tail. When we got in the big open water we were 11km from shore and at a depth of 65m (you cant see the bottom) and we all we jumped in off the back of the boat to swim with the biggest fish in the sea.

Michaela and Holly with the whale shark

Michaela and Holly with the whale shark

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Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Aaron with the whale shark

Aaron with the whale shark

It was AWESOME, AMAZING and totally BEAUTIFUL This big graceful giant of the sea swims along only a 1metre from the surface of the ocean and we were dropped and told to watch him swim towards us and then chose a side and when his side fins reach you start swimming and we had to swim really hard to keep up with him. We would swim as fast as we could with our fins and snorkels and watching the big giant whale shark just cruising along. The crew also helped Aaron and Holly to keep up with the Whale Shark whilst Dad and Bianca were a team. We were so proud of the children. (The years of swimming lessons paid off)

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

Andrew and Bianca with the whale shark

It was a thrill just to have achieved the experience as a family. Aaron, Holly and Bianca were fantastic all jumping in and swimming with this amazing big fish.

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Big tail

Big tail swimming away

We nicknames our whale shark ‘spotty’ as whale sharks are characteristically covered in spots. We were told he was a male and he was about 6 metres long – which when he is swimming towards you in the middle of the big blue sea is HUGE.

Aaron swimming as fast as possible

Aaron swimming as fast as possible

Spotty the whale shark

Spotty the whale shark

Lunch included an apple swan which the girls loved!

Lunch included an apple swan which the girls loved!

After the wale sharks we had another snorkel and lunch before back to shore a big day out. We all had a a great day and one that we will all remember forever…special memories.

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