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Stories from our backyard: Swimming with Whale Sharks in Australia

May 30, 2021 | Australia, Western Australia

Climate change means that the discerning traveller can pay to fly carbon neutral, can reuse hotel towels without expecting fresh replacements, and is now demanding education and conservancy when choosing a tour. Our care factor is heightened when it comes to meeting the local wildlife as well. The zeitgeist today is all about experiencing the environment without damaging or disturbing the habitat. It’s a good thing! These same ecotourism principles apply, and are strictly regulated, with the incredible experience of swimming with Whale Sharks in Australia. Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo are one of a few licensed operators that allow you to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Amongst the regulations adhered to, there is one in particular that stands out. That is the use of spotter planes to find the Whale Sharks without luring or feeding them. It’s indeed a very good reason why you should choose Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo for your bucket list experience. It’s responsible ecotourism at its best.

In terms of remoteness, Exmouth is right up there. Located on the North West Cape of Western Australia, you don’t just stumble upon this small resort town. It’s a 90-minute flight north of Perth, or a 13-hour drive. But it’s a town with big reasons to visit. Exmouth is the perfect base to explore the impressive landscapes of the Cape Range National Park and the underwater wonders of the world heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park. The Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s longest fringing barrier reef and visitors come from around the world to swim with the awe-inspiring gentle giants of the sea – the Whale Sharks, Manta rays and playful Humpback whales. The reef is 300 kilometres long, and Exmouth is located at its northern reaches. Bordering the reef is the rugged Cape Range National Park. Covering more than 50,000 hectares, the Park features breathtaking canyons, limestone ranges and wildlife such as emus, red kangaroos, dingoes, echidnas and a variety of birds and reptiles. A holiday to Exmouth is all about the great outdoors, the marine activities, exploring the outback and of course, meeting the local wildlife. It’s off the beaten track and delivers in abundance on iconic Australian experiences!

The experience of a lifetime…

But the highlight is definetly swimming with Whale Sharks in Australia on the pristine Ningaloo Reef.  Ningaloo Reef’s remarkable eco-system attracts hundreds of Whale sharks with its abundance of naturally-occurring food and Whale sharks gather en masse at Ningaloo to take advantage of easy, plentiful feeding. While Whale sharks can grow to an impressive 15 meters in length, and have a mouth almost 1.5 meters wide, they pose no danger to humans. They are calm, slow moving, naturally curious fish that are undisturbed by snorkellers swimming in close proximity. Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo operate daily tours with small group numbers from March to August. The full day tour allows maximum time to swim with the world’s largest fish, as well as enjoy the pristine waters of the Ningaloo marine park. For those visiting in the warmer months (September-March) there are plenty of cruise options to view or swim with Humpback whales, Manta Rays, as well as snorkel and dive the Ningaloo marine Park. Whatever the time of year there is a tour to meet the Ningaloo residents and it’s a must-do!

Cape Range National Park. Photo Credit: Australia’s Coral Coast
Humpback Whale & Calf. Photo credit: Sara Barbieri

Passionate about Whale Sharks, Ningaloo & Exmouth….

There is no place quite like Ningaloo Reef to meet naturally-feeding whale sharks in such a large congregation across an extended season. Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo are the original pioneers and Whale shark swims are their specialty. They have a fully-qualified team and donate a portion of every Whale shark and Humpback whale swim to Parks & Wildlife Australia to assist in their research initiatives. As a member of Australian Wildlife Journeys, they have a commitment to protect Australia’s remarkable fauna, with more than 80% of our unique wildlife can be found nowhere else on earth. The Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo team also contribute by supporting many research and conservation initiatives such as Wildbook for Whale sharks, Project Manta, Longitude 181, and the centre for Whale research Western Australia. So, if you are serious about supporting the local wildlife, make sure to choose an operator that is serious about ecotourism. Make sure to include Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo & Exmouth on your wish list for your next Australia holiday…. I know I will be doing just that ☺.

Friendly Turtle. Photo credit: Alan Tougher

Facts:

The Autumn/Winter season (March-September) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 28-20 degrees Celsius (July is coldest month) and the nights can dip to 17 degrees. There is little rain as it is a desert climate. Perfect weather for all activities.

Yardie Creek, Cape Range National Park. Photo credit: Tourism Western Australia


Good to know:

Exmouth is a double whammy…it’s really about the Range and the Reef. The perfect combination of the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo coast Marine Park and the impressive landscapes of the Cape Range National Park make Exmouth a must-visit destination. There are plenty of reasons to visit and allow 4-6 nights or more to get the most out of your stay! Apart from the numerous tours with Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo, other top highlights include swimming with giant Mantarays and Humpback Whales, experience some snorkelling or diving on the Ningaloo Reef, visit the Jurabi Turtle Centre to view nesting marine Turtles, catch a scenic flight or go fishing and don’t miss an outback adventure in the Cape Range National Park.

Echidna at Cape Range National Park. Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia

And finally:

AET Travel (formerly Australia Expat Travel) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details.

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