Western Australia is preparing for another huge whale shark season, following sightings of the world’s largest fish near Exmouth in the State’s Coral Coast region. More than 19,300 people visited World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef in 2014 to get up close with the gentle giants of the sea, who migrate to Western Australian shores between March and August each year to feed on plankton and krill.
Whale shark swim tours will begin from Coral Bay and Exmouth from mid-March until August, allowing visitors the opportunity to have a face-to-fin encounter with whale sharks– which can grow up to 18 metres in length.
David O’Malley, Australia’s Coral Coast chief executive officer, expects to see more international tourists visit WA’s mid-north coast in 2015 to experience the magic of swimming with whale sharks.
“Due to the weakening of the Australian dollar, we’re anticipating an increase in overseas visitors signing up to whale shark tours in 2015. Last year we had the largest number of tours ever to take place in the Coral Coast at 1,133, and a whale shark sighting success rating of 92 per cent.”
Marnie Hunt, owner of Ocean Eco Adventures has been running whale shark tours in the region for 20 years and said the number of sightings seen so far this year is a good indication of a successful season ahead. “We’re really excited to kick-off the 2015 season and expect to start our tours from Exmouth in mid-March when there will be large numbers of whale sharks in the region.”
Ningaloo Marine Park’s nutrient rich waters are considered one of the best places to swim with whale sharks due to reliability of numbers and accessibility to interact with the leviathans of the ocean. At 300 kilometres long, World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing reef. Visitors can walk straight off the beach and snorkel in the underwater wonderland swarming with brilliant coloured coral, manta rays, sea turtles and more than 500 species of tropical fish.
The annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival will celebrate the season with a family festival day, gala cocktail evening, movies under the stars and live music from May 21-24, 2015.