Swimming with Sharks

Wednesday, 21st August 2019

Liz Lunnon

western australia coral bay whale shark swimming twa

Volunteering to jump into shark-infested waters perhaps isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us… but a surprising number of people travel to Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef every year to do just that.

Every year around March/April the coral spawns, which attracts the attention of the world’s largest fish. Large numbers of whale sharks congregate here to feed, offering visitors the chance to take a closer look at these gentle giants of the ocean.


western australia ningaloo snorkelling with turtle ll

Our warm up swim was pretty spectacular in its own right. Jumping into the Indian Ocean we snorkelled over coral, home to countless species of brightly coloured tropical fish. A turtle floated by and then our first shark swam into sight -a small one, a white tipped reef shark, but a promising sign for things to come.

western australia ningaloo reef shark ll

We cruised out of the protected waters of the inner reef and beyond to open ocean. A whale shark had been located and so we prepped ourselves for our first swim into the unknown. It’s very hard to see the shark from the boat, so jumping in we had no real idea what to expect… but suddenly, a huge shape loomed into view underwater. With its distinctive spotty markings there was no mistaking our first whale shark!


western australia ningaloo liz with whale shark ll

Around 8 metres long, we swam alongside him for several incredible minutes before he left us trailing in his wake. Our next encounter was more hurried. No sooner were we in the water than our whale shark began to dive down to the depths. This offered the fantastic sight of his immense spotted back as he disappeared below us. Undeterred we entered the water again, this time a young 3 metre female swam into view. She slowly circled which made it easy to keep up with her and enjoy a chance to admire her up close. By this time, our nerves had dissipated and we could appreciate the moment of sharing the ocean with this beautiful and peaceful shark.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better the crew spotted something else in the water… a scalloped hammerhead shark. Before I knew it I was back in the water again, trying to adjust my snorkel whilst keeping up with this speedy and strange looking fish. The hammerhead is unmistakable, named for its shaped head. This was an unexpected and magical way to round off an unforgettable day of swimming with sharks.

western australia ninglaoo scalloped hammerhead shark ll

Ningaloo is a pristine 260kms long fringing coral reef, lying just off the West Australian coast. It is home to 300 species of coral and 500 species of fish, including whale, hammerhead, white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks to name just a few! Whale shark season is March-July but from August-October the humpback whales arrive. You can swim with manta rays year round.


If you fancy jumping in with these beautiful creatures of the deep, speak to our team of Aussie Specialists to start planning your trip today!


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