Swim with Whale Sharks, Ningaloo WA
After you've been picked up from your accommodation, your whale shark swim day begins with an introduction to your boat for the day; a tourism award winning state-of-the-art boat with a friendly, knowledgeable crew. After your safety briefing is over, you'll be kitted up with snorkelling equipment (BYO if you have it!), and you'll hit the water at Ningaloo for a morning snorkel over the breathtaking reef where you may come across dugongs, turtles and breathtaking manta rays. Closer to the reef we will see reef sharks (not dangerous), rays and a huge variety of fish.
You'll then enjoy a delicious morning tea whilst our spotter plane searches for whale sharks, and when they do we head out there and get you in the water. The dive masters lead you out to the correct place, and we wait for the whale sharks to approach and cruise nonchalantly past. They only swim very slowly, so you have plenty of time to get a magnificent view and some of your most awesome holiday photos.
Safety is our number one priority, and we have a Safety Zodiac in attendance for all trips. In addition to whale shark snorkelling activity, you will have at least two snorkel swims on the Ningaloo Reef. If you are one of our rare trips where we don’t see a whale shark, you will be presented with a certificate enabling you a free trip on a later date.
In general, the season lasts from April to the end of July.
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Fitness and Experience
- Basic swimming skills are required if you wish to join us in the water
- Children welcome from 4 upwards
What to Bring/Wear
- Dress for the weather on the day (a jumper is also advised!)
- Sunscreen, hat and skin protection
- Swimmers & towel
- Snorkeling equipment (if you have any)
- Seasickness medication (BYO as we cannot provide it by law)
What is Supplied
- We have experienced divemasters (most of them are qualified marine biologists) looking after you, although you don’t need to dive at all - the whale sharks swim very close to the surface, so snorkelling gets you the best view
- Morning snorkel on Ningaloo Reef
- Spotter plane to find the sharks
- Swim with the whale sharks
- Safety boat (zodiak) available at all times for tired swimmers
- Morning tea
- Buffet lunch (with vegetarian options)
- Fruit platter
- Hot and cold drinks are included
- 1 free tour if the whale sharks aren't spotted
- Gift pack (with a nice certificate stating the date you first swam with a Whale Shark and a commemorative figurine)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are there any age restrictions on a Whale Shark tour?
A. No there are not. Our vessel is specifically designed for Whale Shark Eco tours. Our marlin board (the platform you use to get on and off the boat) sits flush (level) with the water; this makes our boat extremely easy for all ages to get on and off. Some other boats have raised marlin boards which means you need to have the strength to pull your self out of the water.
Q. Are Whale Sharks dangerous?
A. No they are not. They are a totally harmless filter feeding fish, this means they can not eat humans!
Q. What size Whale Sharks do you swim with?
A. Whale Sharks around 5 - 8m are the most common on the Ningaloo Reef. However they can grow up to 18m!
Q. How much time do you spend in the water with the Whale Sharks?
A. The time in the water varies from tour to tour. We can only swim with any one Whale Shark for a maximum of 60 minutes. We generally spend 5 - 10 minutes per swim in the water besides the Whale Shark, rest for about 5 minutes then repeat the process.
Q. How do you find the Whale Sharks?
A. We locate the Whale Sharks using a spotter plane. We share a spotter plane with other companies, this basically means that we can have the plane in the air for longer and have up to 3 spotter planes looking for Whale Sharks at any one time! Not only does this mean a better success rate, we also have a better chance of locating multiple whale sharks.
Q. What if I don't see a Whale Shark?
A. This is an uncommon occurrence. There were only 8 days out of the whole 2005 season we didn't see a Whale Shark! In the unlikely even that no Whale Shark is sighted, one FREE tour is offered to all passengers on board.
Q. Are Exmouth and Coral Bay both the Ningaloo Reef?
A. Yes, Exmouth and Coral Bay are both situated on the Ningaloo Reef, however are on opposite ends of the reef. There is an approximate 1hr drive between Coral Bay and Exmouth.
Q. What is your policy on children?
A. A child is classified from 2 - 14 years of age.
Children are more than welcome on our tours, we have our boat designed so kids can go swimming with the Whale Sharks too! All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Unfortunately we do not supply wetsuits for smaller children, we advise them bringing their own rash vests for sun protection.
Whalesharks are the largest fish in the ocean. A fully grown Whale Shark can reach up to 18m in length. Whale Sharks encountered on the Ningaloo Reef are most commonly between 4-12m long. A male Whale Shark is sexually mature at about 8.5m in length.
Whale Sharks can weigh up to 15 tonnes and have mouths over a metre wide. Yet they survive by filtering zooplankton such as copepods and krill through thousands of tiny teeth arranged in 300 rows located in their gills. These are known as gill rakers.
Whale Sharks are found in warm temperate seas between the latitudes 30 degrees north and 35 degrees south. The seasonal aggregation of Whale Sharks in the Ningaloo Marine Park is linked with an increase in the productivity of the ocean around the time of the mass coral spawning in March/April each year. Ningaloo Reef is one of the few places in the world where Whale Sharks appear regularly in numbers.
Very little is known about the breeding cycle and mating habits of Whale Sharks. Whale Sharks however do have internal fertilization and produce live young. Males can be distinguished by the presence of two claspers near the pelvic fin. These are absent on female sharks.
Whale Sharks are fish and obtain their oxygen by filtering sea water through their gills. They do not need to come to the surface to breathe. It is believed that they come to the surface to feed but their feeding habits and normal behaviour remain a mystery. At the first sign of danger Whale Sharks will dive for the bottom. They have been known to dive to depths of 700m.
Whale Sharks have 5 gill slits, 2 dorsal fins, an anal fin, a very wide mouth, small eyes and a spiracle, which is a round hole behind the eyes. Whale Sharks are closely related to bottom-dwelling sharks such as the Wobbegong Shark, there scientific name is Rhincondon typus.
The skin on the back of the Whale Shark is about 7cm thick. It provides the Whale Shark with protection and it will always bank towards the swimmers when threatened to protect its relatively soft under belly. The pattern of lines and spots seen on a Whale Shark helps them to blend into their oceanic surroundings. These unique patterns can be used to identify individual sharks.
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