Swimming with the world’s biggest fish

Very excited to be swimming with the whale sharks today!  Ocean Eco Adventures collected us from the Novotel and drove us to the boat ramp.  Along with about 14 other passengers and four Japanese film crew, we boarded the boat and headed out to the reef. 

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Donning full length 2/3mm wet suits, we all had a snorkel to ensure that everyone was capable of snorkelling and that everyone’s equipment worked well for them. 

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Zorba (husband Andrew) and I excited before our swim with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Western Australia

Once again, snorkelling on the Ningaloo Reef didn’t disappoint.  We saw loads of different coloured little fish, coral, and a couple of huge angel fish.

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Yellow tails, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

The boat, an ex-cray fishing boat with a nice wide wet deck, cruised outside the reef to begin our search for the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.  Ocean Eco’s spotter plane saw a whale shark and radioed the boat. Those in group one quickly got ready and lined up along the marlin board at the back of the boat, ready to slide into the ocean and swim alongside the gentle giant.  Due to the overcast weather, it was difficult for the boat crew to spot the whale shark, and we lost him. Everyone back on board.  This happened again, 10 minutes later.   Third time lucky and we had found a 4 metre whale shark. 

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What an incredible experience to swim along the most placid shark.  This whale shark, being fairly young at just 4 metres in length (still HUGE!), was very inquisitive.  He was quite close to the surface, swimming in one direction, before turning around to come back to check us out, or the boat.  We were told to stay 3 metres away from the shark at all times.  It was a little hard to do with the beast was swimming straight for you!! What a sight and what an amazing experience.

There were about four or five little feeder fish hitching a ride underneath the whale shark, darting in and out eating the poo of the whale shark.  Thankfully, I didn’t notice that the whale shark had pooed – pretty gross!  At least the feeder fish ate his poo rather than let us swim in it!

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Whale shark

We were so fortunate, the sun came out and the dark clouds disappeared and we had four incredible swims with the whale shark.  It was a lot of fun.  The shark would dive down and we would lose sight of him in the depths of the ocean, then he would ascend from the loom and come into view.  The whale shark’s massive back getting bigger and bigger. 

Along side the hugest of fish, never once did I feel threatened or frightened.  It was a serene and almost spiritual experience – and definitely one I could recommend to everyone.

Ocean Eco put on a spectacular lunch for us – Exmouth prawns, ham, salami, proscuito and melon, frittata, salad, fresh bread, and smoked salmon.  A seriously good feast! 

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Delicious lunch on board Ocean Eco Adventures boat – living it up

After lunch we went for another snorkel at Ningaloo Reef, seeing so many fish, a massive sting ray half buried in the sand, another smaller reef ray, angel fish, parrot fish, clown fish, wrasse – the list of fish we saw was huge.  Zorba and both had a magical day.

Big shout out to Marnie at Ocean Eco Adventures and the friendly crew – Marcus, Ant, Dave, Rachel and skipper Andy for and incredible day. 

We had a quick but beautiful dinner at Manta Rays restaurant at the Novotel. Exhausted from a big day, we fell into bed at 9.15pm and had a big sleep in anticipation of a huge day driving to Kalbarri.