Six months since my first day on a boat, ever and on a last minute decision I jumped on the boat with Aaron and the crew. A beautifully hot day, the water like glass and coral spawn floating on the surface like orange rivers running through the Indian Ocean. We soon find out there’s a rather gorgeously proportioned smile from six months ago passinng through the Ningaloo reef, a huge surprise as it is completely out of season for Whale Sharks! But here he was, a beautifully slow 6m male who allows us to join him for a swim. Being offered the pleasure of swimmer for the drop, this means guiding the tourists alongside the whale shark at a licensed distance as not to distrupt or overcrowd him, and in turn sharing what was such an amazing ‘welcome the Ningaloo’ experience for me six months ago, I almost jump overboard at the chance. Whilst also being a whole lot better at not drowning whilst snorkeling and actually keeping up; I spend most of the time swimming right next to him, observing the details of this massive, dotty fish, from how slow and smoothly he moves through the water, to his two tiny eyes placed either side of that huge mouth; I feel a bit rude staring for so long that I find myself offering him a little wave.
Not to mention, before this we swum on the sand flats in perfect visibilty with a 3M Manta Ray whilst he played with us, twisting and flipping. After the whale shark excitement I even completed my fifth dive, and first adventure dive as a certified PADI diver.
I spot a Woobiegong shark hiding in his cave, a couple of nudibranchs, plenty of rays, blue spotted lagoon Ray and a leopard Ray, plus loads of schooling trevallies!
And then there was the snorkel at Asho’s Gap where we popped by the shark cleaning station, apparently one of the closest cleaning stations to shore in the world, to see, not only black tip Reefies but, a white tip reef shark and a turtle amongst them too. What an amazing present from the Ningaloo Reef.
This fringing reef contains such a plentiful and vast range of natural beauty, boasting a sublimely healthy echo system for our future generations to explore. Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat gos a huge way to recognising more fully what should be saved, what is worth protecting; we just need to encouraging respectful explorations where preservation is the motivation, not money.