Road trip Part 9: Whale Shark experience

Whale shark experience – see the worlds biggest fish. In part 8 of this serie about the road trip in Western Australia Leanne Richardsson tell you about her day outside Exmouth in north west WA were she had an amazing day with the huge animal. Enjoy!
More from the road trip:

In the map below you can see where we have been and whats coming up.

Here it was. The day one of my lifetime dreams was going to come true. Swimming with the oceans largest fish, the Whale Shark. Its a beautiful warm morning and I get picked up by 3 Islands Whale Shark Tours. We travel from the town of Exmouth to Cape Range National Park. Along the way the crew are very relaxed telling us facts about Exmouth’s history and the whale sharks.
”Whale Sharks that come to the Ningaloo Reef are juvenile males, ranging from 4-12m in length. They come from March to July and no one knows where they go when they leave the reef. While on the reef it is believed they are here to feed due to the mass carol spawning in March/April each year”.

I am amazed by all the facts, I am on the edge of my seat listening to every word.

We arrive at the dock, in front of me is the turquoise ocean with the morning sun glistening off the surface. It looks so inviting and my heart feels so warm. The crew point out Draw Card bobbing in the sea just off shore. She will be the boat taking us to find the mysterious whale shark.

Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia

Our first stop is snorkeling on one of the Ningaloo’s many reefs. As I jump in I can see how crystal clear the water is. It is a little choppy but that doesn’t bother me, I feel at home. As we swim to the reef I see a shovel nose ray swimming gently along the sea bend, then a sting ray hiding in the sand and a reef shark looking for lunch. Also there is a range of reef fish all colours of the rainbow. The coral is so beautiful with all it’s different colours and shapes.


Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia

After a quick snorkel on the reef the real adventure begins. We are now heading out to the big blue. The excitement is electric. They send a spotter plane up to give the skipper co ordinates to find the whale sharks. Even though the crew do this everyday they are ”still just as pumped as any other day”. Who wouldn’t be, in my eyes they have one of the best jobs in the world. A call comes in from the plane, the first whale shark has been spotted. As we come closer I see a massive dark shower glide under the boat. My heart is beating so fast with excitement. We are split in to 2 groups as there are restrictions on how many people can be in the water at one time for the whale sharks protection. We have already been briefed on the best way to swim with them as to not disturb them in there natural environment. All the crew are very passionate about the whale sharks protection and we are here merely to be lucky enough to see them and nothing more.

As I begin to edge my way to the end of the boat I can’t believe I am about to do this, after dreaming for so many years I am actually going to have the privilege of coming face to face with these magnificent creatures of the blue. Sliding quietly into the water we start swimming and there he is!

Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia

Swimming majestically towards me. A 6.5m beauty. The water is so clear, about 40m visibility. As he passes me I start swimming along side him, trying to keep up. I don’t even want to blink. I can not help but think ”Wow, this is one of the greatest moments of my life”. I have so much appreciation and love in my heart at this super special moment in time. I want it to last forever.

Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia Whale Shark Exmouth Western Australia

Over the next few hours I get to swim with 4 different whale sharks. My last encounter is my favourite. I have been swimming along side this 7m whale shark for sometime and it really tiers you out. Suddenly he lifts his tail and dives into the deep and eventually out of sight. What an incredible experience which I will have with me for the rest of my life.

Written by Leanne Richardsson