A swim with the Whale Sharks.

Trip Start Sep 21, 2006
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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ningaloo Reef, off the northwestern coast of Australia, is the only place in the world where Whale Sharks congregate each year to feed on plankton and small fish. Every year for 8-9 nights after the full moon in April and May there is a synchronized mass spawning, when branches of hermaphroditic coral simultaneously eject eggs and sperm into the water. And this is what attracts the whale sharks.

It's the largest fish in the world. It can reach up to 18 m long (60 ft) and weigh up to 21 tonnes. Some whales can grow bigger but they are mammals, not fish. Very little is known about the Whale Shark as scientists only started studying them about 13 years ago. Their white spot pattern is unique to each individual which facilitates identification. About 1400 Whale Sharks have been identified so far. No one really knows how many there are in the sea and how long they live.

Swimming along side those gentle giants is an experience one can never ever forget. Especially the first one you see as they generally swim directly towards you. I boarded a boat specialized in this kind of experience and we also had a spotter plane that was flying over the open ocean behind Ningaloo Reef. It took a couple hours before the plane spotted a shark and radioed in its position. We rushed to that location and then the moment finally came. I jumped off the boat, swam for a couple minutes in the direction I was instructed and there it was, a 8 meter (25 ft) Whale Shark coming straight at me with its one meter mouth wide open. It's an unbelievable feeling. They are harmless to humans as they feed on plankton and small fish but you must keep your distance as one hit from its tail could easily break every bone is your body.

Diving with the largest fish in the world is one of those "must do before you die" experiences. Absolutely amazing.
Andre.
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Comments

edouard_l
edouard_l on

Fantastique
Tes photos, surtout celles prises sous l'eau, sont géniales. Je vois que ton voyage continue avec autant d'enthousiasme. Yangshuo et nos randos-vélos semblent bien loin! J'espère que tu apprécies la côte occidentale de l'Australie, elle est si magique!

Bon voyage,
Edouard

andremaheux
andremaheux on

Re: Fantastique
Salut Edouard,

tu as bien raison, Yangshuo semble maintenant a des annees-lumiere mais les souvenirs de voyages sont heureusement a l'epreuve du temps.

J'adore la cote ouest australienne. Ce qu'on entend est bien vrai, c'est ici qu'on retrouve la vraie Australie. Le desert du 'Red Centre' etait aussi exceptionel. Quelle magnifique pays et surtout quelle magnifique faune.

Au plaisir,
Andre.

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