A Whale Shark Adventure at Coral Bay Western Australia

Driving into the small hamlet of Coral Bay seemed to be as normal as all the other towns that we encountered along the way, with one exception this was the place to swim with those wonderful creatures known as Whale Sharks. After visiting a couple of the shops in the area we decided to try Coral Bay Adventures for our experience.

At the decent hour of 7.45am we turned up at the shop for our wetsuit fitting and a brief on the day’s events. All 10 of those onboard were excited at the prospect of swimming with these graceful creatures of the deep. Tania and I in particular as divers who had never seen them in the wild wanted this day to be one to remember as the chance to see them would be once in a lifetime.

The crew welcomed us on board and explained the rules pertaining to swimming with the sharks and gave an informative speech on the shark’s lifecycle, eating habits and general lifestyles. It was interesting to find out that they can live to 100 years old if left in the wild and mature at 30 years of age.

The spotter plane signals to the boat skipper that a shark has been sighted and all onboard are told to kit up and move to the back of the boat ready to be given the okay to slowly descend into the crystal clear water for the first of 5 swims with this wonderful creature.

A spotter from the boat directs us to the shark for our first eye to eye look at one of the true wonders of the ocean.

The first encounter only lasted about 2-3 minutes but this was to be the beginning of 5 swims with this Shark that grew in time to about 10 minutes. If like me you have never had the opportunity to swim with this fish the first encounter is one of those defining moments in your lifetime that will last with you forever.

As the shark makes it way along the 6 kilometre wide and 40 kilometre long feeding grounds on what is known as the Coral Coast it descends and ascends on regular occasions, not for air as this is not an air breathing mammal but the largest fish in the ocean. While it surfaces to feed its time for those snorkelling to get the best view of the Shark.

The second, third and fourth time we swam with the Shark just got better each time as the duration of in water time increased each time. When we reached the fifth and final snorkel I had managed to swim alongside the Shark within 4 metres of it for quite sometime and had to bid goodbye to the graceful creature for the final time and return to the boat.

Without doubt this was one of the most exhilarating days of our trip and perhaps one that will never be repeated. So if you have had it in mind to get across to WA (I know it’s a great distance) and swim with the Whale Sharks, DO IT AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!!

 

Mark Battams

 

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