Sunday, May 15, 2011

Whale Sharks!

We followed up the spectacular manta ray experience by going out the next day to swim with the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark.  This tour was similar to the manta rays with snorkelling and a spotter plane looking for these incredible fish.  Ningaloo has a yearly migration of whale sharks through the area feeding on the plankton-rich waters.  Thus, it's one of the few places in the world to reliably find and snorkel with these animals.

That being said, this is a long day on a boat with only a few minutes in the water with these fish.  Our first spotting occurred after around 3 hours on the boat.  We got a brief swim with this 15 foot juvenile whale shark.  It then disappeared and we waited around another hour for another sighting.  This was a beautiful 25 foot giant!  (They can reach 50+ feet, but for some reason only "smaller" juveniles migrate to Ningaloo!)

The boat attempts to drop the snorkellers off in front of the whale shark and uses a trained swimmer in the water to ensure it isn't a tiger shark (!) and guide the snorkellers.  Your job once you're in the water is to stay with the group and get out of the way of the shark before briefly trying to keep up with it as it goes past.  We have some video footage of this incredible, chaotic experience which we'll post soon.  Again, an incredible day in the water with some amazing animals!

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