"Feeling like an extra in Finding Nemo..."

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, June 10, 2005

Finally the gods were looking down on us and the weather improved dramatically! Packing up my rain coat, I wondered, no actually hoped that this would be the last time I saw it in the next few months, we had now crossed the Tropic of Capricorn after all, so in theory the next few months should be sunshine, sunshine, sunshine!

We got to use our recently purchased snorkeling gear for the first time in Coral Bay. As the name suggests, there was plenty of reef to swim upon, although Enzo our driver tried to persuade us not to go in; well it meant he had to get up 2 hours earlier to take us there!

Although the reef was a bit disappointing - mostly brown and dead rather than the bright colours we were expecting, it was definitely worth getting up for as we got to swim with about 6 turtles (the same as the finding Nemo turtles) lots of different fish, and best of all, a reef shark. You can see this shark in the photos above, but because I had to swim quickly after it, I got my finger in the way. It was a good 8ft long though, not bad for our first shark sighting!

After another long drive we reached the town of Exmouth, and checked into our 'luxury' accommodation (more like a portacabin you would find on a worksite) that would be our home for the next 3 days. It was here we met up with Alex again, one of the girls we traveled down South with. We had decided to jump off here because Exmouth is the only place is the world that you can swim with migrating whale sharks.

The biggest 'fish' in the world, they have been known to grow 18 metres long and come here every year to feed on the plankton between April and July.

To swim with the oceans 'gentle giant' was an opportunity we couldn't miss so booked ourselves onto the extraordinarily expensive boat charter for the next day. The total price including $50 extra for a scuba dive and $50 for an underwater camera was $380 (180) a lot when you consider all you're doing is swimming in the sea! Let's hope the spread they lay on at lunch is worth it!

After booking the trip Enzo drove us to a secret spot called Turquoise Bay. After traveling for 4 days in the rain it's what everyone needed. Sadly today was our last with Enzo as he left the next morning to continue up to Broome. A typical Aussie, his main objective was to get everyone as drunk as possible, regularly stopping at bottle shops along the way so people could drink on board!

As for the whale sharks the following day, well it was just as amazing as we expected. Nearly as soon as we set sail, the spotter plane found one of the giants.

Racing to the location in the boat, they didn't give you much time to don your snorkeling equipment before they were making you all jump off the back boat into the water! But what a sight, approx 10 metres long, it wasn't the longest in the world, but it was still huge to us. To be able to swim next to one of these 'fish' was definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

We were actually in the water for a whole hour before the boat came and picked us up. We didn't do much, just swam next to it, but to see it open its massive mouth to feed was amazing. Usually swimmers only average about 10 minutes in the water before the shark swims off so we did well to be with one for so long.

We ended up swimming with another slightly smaller shark a bit later and I also got to do a scuba dive, my first since Fiji, some 7 months ago now! Unlike the snorkeling the day before, the reef was alive with animals and full of colour. A good time to test our new toy, the underwater camera!

It was a good day, but I still can't understand why it cost so much? Understandably the spotter plane probably costs a lot, but there were 12 people on our boat - that's over $3000 a day they are making! I suppose they can only run these tours 3 months of the year, but they still make over $270,000 (105,000) over that time! Not a bad day job if you can get it!
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