Coral Bay - Ningaloo Reef , Sights and Rescue.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2018


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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, September 18, 2008

With family visiting we finally get the chance to go out on the Ningaloo 2 for a Nature Tour. The day is looking like a beauty so its onto the bus and down to the new boat ramp facility. The MV Ningaloo 2 , an ex cray boat operated by Coral Bay Charters, a sister business to Bayview (www.coralbaywa.com), is waiting jetty side. 
We are greeted by Captain Graham, swimmer Vicki and deckie/hostie Yasmine and put to sea.

The plane is up and we are steaming for Batemans Bay out from Mauds Landing, the usual haunt of the Manta Rays. We no sooner arrive than a sighting is confirmed and we are divided into two groups. Our swimmer Vicki is quick into the water followed by group 1, while the rest of us take the opportunity to take some shots of the Manta line feeding directly in front of the Ningaloo. Then its our turn, group two are into the water and the Manta is right there - swim like buggery to keep up - the thrill of the chase - the serenity - this is an awesome experience. We return to the Ningaloo just as a new Manta is spotted, right next to the boat. Group one are again swimming - however this time the Manta is in no hurry. We choose to have a spell, so the balance of group two also join the swimmers. While we are waiting a pod of dolphin cruise into our space and turn on a twisting, turning display. Everyone are just back on the MV Ningaloo deck excitably soaking up Manta therapy when the call from the spotter plane announces a whale is only a couple of kilometers away, also in the bay. This is fantastic luck - and the MV Ningaloo sets off in pursuit.

Very shortly we reach the whale, bugger, before anyone can whip out a camera the whale performs a fantastic aerial maneuver and then heads for the open sea. Now armed with cameras we set off for the chase, getting tantalizing glimpses of the whale. We are all starting to think this was all a tease when the whale suddenly slows and cuts behind the MV Ningaloo - the skipper nimbly brings the MV Ningaloo around, just in time for us to click off shots of the whale rolling then diving. By this time we had cleared the passage and were out in open sea and as the whale seemed to be steaming for Antarctica, we turned back through North Passage.

The MV Ningaloo had just reentered the bay when she turned back towards North Passage and increased knots -something has caught the skippers eye. Then we all see an esky floating in the waves, and suddenly a partially submerged tinny (dinghy) rises on a wave, and horrifyingly someone is clinging to the side. The skipper puts Vicki the tour swimmer, into the water, and with strong strokes she rapidly makes the distance to the troubled tinny. She ascertains the accident has only just occurred and the boatman is alone and uninjured. The skipper edges the MV Ningaloo as close as possible and a line is secured to the tinny and pulled into the MV Ningaloo and what gear is left is salvaged. With everyone safely on board, the extra passenger assessed as OK and the tinny in tow, we are consulted (as managers of the vessel) as to what now should be done? We believed all danger has now been averted, so we elect to complete the tour rather than beat a hasty return to base.

So it was onto a cruise through the turtle sanctuary, then to a special spot to snorkel on the coral reef before returning to the marine facility. We had a fantastic day and were exceedingly lucky, however there is no question the chap in the tinny was luckier. 

Footnote: Ningaloo Coast is UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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