With The Gentle Giants At Ningaloo

Posted On December 21, 2009 

Country Info

Australia is the world’s smallest continent with an area of 7,618,000 square kilometers and is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The island nation comprises the mainland, island of Tasmania and several other islands in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. To its north lie countries like Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea while to its north-east lie countries like Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. New Zealand is the south-eastern neighbor of Australia.

Western Australia

Western Australia is the western most state of Australia and covers the entire western third. It is the largest state of Australia and has 2.2 million people. Capital is Perth.

ningaloo reef australia

Common Info

Ningaloo Reef is located off the west coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is roughly 1200 kilometres north of the capital of Westren Australia, Perth.  The 300 kilometre-long reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef. The reef and its adjacent waters were designated as the Ningaloo Marine Park in 1987. Ningaloo reef is the world’s only large local reef located so close to a landmass. At its closest point to Australia, the reef is just 100 metres from the shore while at its farthest point it is less than 7 kilometres.

Ningaloo Marine Park

The Ningaloo National Park has a wide variety of marine species like sharks, manta rays, dolphins, whales besides over 250 coral species and several tropical fish species. The park has as many as twenty-one zones including Bundegi sanctuary Zone, Turtles Sanctuary Zone, Pelican Sanctuary Zone, Maud Sanctuary Zone, 3 Miles Sanctuary Zone, Sunday Island Conservation Area, North Muiron Conservation Area, South Muiron Conservation Area and others.

Ningaloo Reef acqua-life

The Ningaloo Reef is known for its seasonal feeding concentration of whale sharks. Besides in winters, dolphins, humpback whales, manta rays and dugongs pass through this reef on their way of migration. The reef is also the breeding ground of various turtle species like the loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. Over 500 fish species like Lionfish, Moray Eels, Clown fish are also found in the reef region. There are also innumerable coral and mollucs species that grow here.

Whale Sharks

A kind of filter-feeding shark, whale sharks are slow moving creatures that originated about 60 million years ago. They are mainly found in tropical and warm waters and have a lifespan of nearly 70 years. Whale sharks mainly feed on plankton, microscopic flora and fauna even though their mouth is a metre wide. They have large size and in fact are the largest living fish species (with an average length of 18 metres). The largest whale shark seen till date is one that had a length of 42 feet and weighed nearly 22 tonnes. These creatures are quite harmless in nature even though their size and name suggest the opposite. These sharks feature 5 gill slits, 2 dorsal fins, an anal fin, small eyes and very thick skin.

Whale sharks receive oxygen by filtering sea water through their gills. They do not surface to breathe. These creatures take a deep dive on sensing danger. They can dive down to as deep as 700 metres.

Whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is one of the many coastal sites where the whale sharks visit for their seasonal feeding (Belize, Honduras, the Philippines, Mexico are some of the other places). They visit the Ningaloo Reefs during autumn when the coral spawns and plankton population bloom. Tntabiddi and Mangrove Bay are the best places to witness these gentle giants.

Whale shark ecotours at NingalooWhale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

Swimming with the largest fish species in the sea, i.e., the whale shark is an experience one can never forget. The adventure of swimming with the shark whales is so intense that it often leaves tourists silenced in awe and amazement. The whale shark tours are accompanied by trained divers as well as ‘Whale shark spotter’. Whale sharks swim just below the surface of water and hence to swim with it, it is important for one to stay afloat. All necessary equipments are supplied by the whale ecotour operators. Only ten people are allowed to swim with the Whale shark at a given point of time. One must swim at least 3 metres away from the Whale shark’s body and 4 metres away from its tail. The duration of the swim depends on factors like number of whale sharks, behavior of whale sharks, fitness of the tourist and others. There are also arrangements for underwater photography of the ecotours that one can take home and enjoy at leisure. The tours to snorkel with whale sharks start everyday from Exmouth and Coral Bay. For booking, one can contact Exmouth Visitor Centre on 1800 287 328.

How to reach Ningaloo Reef
By air

daily flights leave from the coastal town of Carnavron, 900 kilometres north to Perth

By car

Brand Highway from Perth to Geraldton. From there the Coastal Highway to the Shark Bay. At Minilya after Carnavon, there is a turnoff to Coral Bay and Exmouth, two of the most popular access points to Ningaloo Reef.

Time to visit Ningaloo

The reef is open to visit throughout the year but if one has to get glimpse of the whale sharks and swim with them, autumn and early winter (March to June) are the best times.

Attractions at Ningaloo Reef and other places
  • Swimming with the shark whales
  • Trips in glass-bottomed boats
  • Scuba-diving and snorkeling
  • White beaches set against the backdrop of rugged limestone terrains
  • Gorge walks and boat trips into Yardie Creek in Cape Range National Park for wildlife viewing. The rare black-footed wallabies can be spotted here.
  • Camping at Cape Range National Park
  • Deep sea fishing at Exmouth
  • One can also visit the Shark Bay and the adjoining national parks. Seagrass at Shark Bay is one of the major attractions.
  • Sea Breeze Resort
  • Ningaloo Reef ResortNingaloo Reef Resort
  • Pot Shot Resort Hotel
  • Ningaloo caravan and Holiday Resort
  • Yardie Homestead Caravan Park
  • Exmouth cape Tourist Village
  • Ningaloo Club Coral Bay
  • Bay View Coral Bay Caravan Park
  • Exmouth Cape Real Estate

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