Category Archives: Blog

Nature Hour on The Reef

The whale sharks and humpback whales may be the stars of the Ningaloo Coast, but there are other equally incredible (though less well known) creatures playing out their lives right on our doorstep at Sal Salis.

Sue and Gary had their own private nature hour when they visited us in November. Swimming with massive bull rays, turtles and sharks giving birth all in the space of 3 days – Attenborough eat your heart out !

Sharks giving birth I hear you ask ?? Indeed. Tawny nurse sharks are residents of the Ningaloo Reef and are ovoviviparous, meaning they give birth to live young that have hatched while in their uterus. Gary was up for an early snorkel one morning and was lucky enough to see a shark giving birth in the shallows – pretty incredible ! The baby magic didn’t stop there either, that night Sue and Gary watched a green turtle haul herself out of the water and lay eggs in a nest on the beach under a full moon.

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After leaving us, Sue and Gary travelled south to Coral Bay and swam with even more sharks, and a resident population of manta rays… Did someone say nature junkies !?

Baby Boom at Ningaloo

The Ningaloo Coast is one of the ocean’s ‘super highways’, providing a route up the west coast of Australia for some of the world’s most spectacular marine life.

Sea turtles and humpback whales frequently use the highway to migrate up and down the Ningaloo Coast between their feeding and breeding grounds and these beautiful animals are certainly not shy about sharing their cute babies with us. The whale sharks aren’t the only celebrities around here !!

This mother came ashore right in front of our beach shelter at Sal Salis to make her nest. She is an endangered green sea turtle and comes to land only to lay her eggs beneath the sand. Their names comes from the green colour of their body fat, coloured by the plants and algae they eat. Looks like these turtles have been eating more than their three serves of greens a day ;

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All seven species of sea turtle are endangered and the loggerhead and hawksbill along with the green turtle all mate and nest along the Ningaloo Coast. Green sea turles return to the beach where they were hatched every two to five years to lay anywhere from 75-100 eggs per nest, with between 1 and 12 nests per season. That’s a whole lotta baby turtkes !! Unfortunately only 1 in 1000 of these little ones will make it to adulthood, the ones that do though can live as old as 80 years ! Our guides at Sal Salis have taken steps to ensure we give this mums little guys the best chance of survival – hopefully n a few months we will see something like this right on our doorstep… Click here to watch some other newborns making a dash to the sea

Turtle Underwater

Thousands of humpback whales also use the super highway to migrate between Antarctica and the Kimberley’s where they give birth to a 1 tonne baby every two to three years ! During their time over winter in the tropical waters off the Kimberley coast the whales will fast and live off their fat reserves.

humpbacks from the air

Once the calves are strong enough, feeding from their mothers milk, they begin the long journey back to Antarctica, staying close to the coast line in the relatively safe shallow water. Over summer in the cold Southern Ocean, one of the largest animals on earth feeds almost entirely on one of the smallest – krill. They will gorge themselves on up to 8 tonnes of these tiny crustaceans a day !

HumpbackWhale Breach

It’s common to see whales breaching right off the reef break from your wilderness tent or from our dedicated whale deck during their annual migration from July to October.

Lucky Lizard

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The Brown Falcon is found in the drier regions of Australia. The Cape Range National Park is an arid limestone area and we are starting to see some lovely wildflowers at this time of year including Sturt Desert Peas and the beautiful Bird Flower.

Sal Salis is wedged into the dunes between these dramatic limestone ranges and then the World Heritage Ningaloo Reef on the other side.

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Our location makes for some amazing outback sunrises and magical coastal sunsets and our habitual routine is to kick back with an aperitif and a canape or two as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean. Ching ching D

Winter … What Winter ?

Juliet, Conrad, Jack & Georgina can vouch that Ningaloo is somewhat warmer than their home in Sydney right now ! They have been enjoying a break from the cold this week at Sal Salis, lounging on the beach in 25 degrees and snorkelling with the turtles in the crystal clear water. One turtle even crawled up the beach to check on an old nest hidden amongst the dunes of the Cape Range. 

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After swimming with the world’s biggest fish – the wonderful whale sharks our guests spotted a pod of killer whales off the reef break in hunting formation, looking for a meal. Back in camp our chef, Pedro, whipped up delicious paella and saffron mussels amongst other tasty morsels. Thank you for visiting our paradise & for sharing some pictures ! 

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Sydney-Siders Wander West

Just like our Sal Salis field guide Emma, who visited Ningaloo when she was a child and vowed to return and work in the area one day, our guests Manon & Tom from Sydney are now hoping to do the same!

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Wonder what they witnessed when they wandered west ?

Wildlife …

World Heritage Ningaloo Reef …

Wallabies …

Whale sharks (aka world’s largest fish) …

Australian Wildlife Conservancy …

Window to the west …

Wedge-tail Eagle …

Wilderness Wisdom from our Wonderful Guides  …

Wide Brimmed Hat …

Wine …

Wade into Water Without Waiting …

Gorge Walks …

While-a-week-away …

White sandy beaches …

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Shall we start on A ? We wouldn’t do that to you !

Wonderful ‘Wedgie’

A wonderdul Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) soars above our guests while exploring the Cape Range National Park this week. The ‘Wedgie’ is the largest bird of prey in Australia and has a wingspan of up to 2.27 metres ! 

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Other birdlife to be spotted in our backyard include Pied Butcherbirds, Fairy Wrens, Kestrels, Zebra Finches, Reef Herons, waders and seabirds amongst others.

This striking silhouette of the Wedge-tailed Eagle cruising overhead may just fool you into forgetting they are opportunists,  constantly searching for a bite to eat.  Nevertheless they do strike an impressive pose when in full flight. 

Turtle Love

Ningaloo Reef is home to large populations of green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, three of the world’s seven marine turtle species.  The mating and nesting season takes place each year between November and April.

Many have already lumbered up the beach to lay their eggs whilst others are still finding a fellow suitor.

For most species, courtship usually occurs over several weeks before the nesting season.  The three turtle species found on Ningaloo Reef have enlarged claws on their front flippers which help them to grasp the shells of the females during mating.  Copulation takes place in the water, just offshore.

A few weeks after mating the female comes ashore on a sandy beach to nest.

This female will be doing just that shortly.

Turtle Mating

Vale Larry!

Larry was the resident sand monitor who lived at the back of the lodge at Sal Salis. 

Sand monitors also known as Gould’s monitor, reach up to 1.4 metres in length and can weigh as much as 6kg.  They spend all day foraging for food and anything smaller than itself will be eagerly devoured. 

Sadly Larry, found himself at the bottom of the food chain yesterday.

A Perentie appeared around the camp, no doubt attracted by the turtle nesting that is taking place at the moment but spotted Larry instead. 

The Perentie is the largest monitor lizard or goanna native to Australia, and the fourth largest lizard in the world! They can grow up to 2.5 metres and can weigh as much as 15kg.  They eat insects, reptiles (including their own kind), turtle eggs, bird eggs, birds and yesterday, Larry. 

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An opportunistic breakfast in the cape range national park

The Wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey with a wing span of up to 2.5 metres; standing up to and sometimes over a metre tall! This one below was seen in the morning on the way out to camp, as you can see we have rudely interrupted breakfast time!

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The young eagles are brown in colour, darkening as they grow. The female is a larger bird than the male, and are quite often sighted in pairs. Unfortunately the amount of road kill (dead Euro’s especially) in the Cape Range National Park is quite high. This is good news for the wedgies as it provides plenty of food to eat. But if you look a little closer at the picture you can see the Euro has been hit by a car and left very close to the edge of the road. As the wedge-tailed eagle is a large & quite heavy bird, it takes them a little time to get up in the air and out of harms (cars) way. No damage was done here as we watched it fly to a tree close by where it waited for us to leave before getting back to the business of breakfast!

Care should always be taken when driving through areas renowned for its wildlife.  Wildlife is very active throughout the national park during the day and night.  Please adhere to speed limits and keep a vigilant watch for birds and animals.