Well that’s one item ticked off my bucket list ….. swimming with the Whale Sharks at Ningaloo reef, off Exmouth. Perhaps it was not quite as spectacular as other peoples’ experience, as we only managed 2 swims, both with “small’ sharks, only about 6 metres long. Other people have had longer swims with bigger sharks, up to 12m or so (whale sharks are the biggest fish on the planet), but still it is 2 swims more than I had done before so I am not too worried about their size.
When the boat skipper finds a shark he places you ahead of it so you can jump in along it’s path and wait for it to swim past, then follow if you can. It was awesome to see one loom up out of the distance and totally ignore you as it swims past, mouth wide open gobbling down the plankton. Our boat skipper was a bit stressed at only being able to find us 2 “small” fish, as he prides himself on having the longest run of customer satisfaction, a season and a half of sightings, among all the boats ( 2 boats did not see anything the day before). All the big fish kept diving as we approached !
After stopping for lunch we had a bonus which more than made up for any disappointment though …..Manta Rays ! Up to 6 appeared out of nowhere so we all geared up and jumped in quickly. A pair of them just cruised around and around our group in the water then when they swam off another headed straight for us, causing everybody to scatter out of his way. At one point I was videoing one ray on my GoPro, about 2 metres below me, when another followed it, coming from behind me less than a metre beneath me ! According to one of our guides, when you see 2 or more manta rays “in formation” as these two were, the first one is a female, and the others are male, who “suck up” to the female by copying her moves and trying to impress her !
They looked so majestic as they “flew” through the water, we were all enthralled watching them. They must have swam around us for at least 30 minutes before heading off into the distance. Absolutely wonderful !
(these photos were taken by the crew photographer, hopefully I will be able to edit my GoPro video into something worth watching on youtube )