Category Archives: Blog

Did Someone Say Whales?

The ‘Ningaloo Super Highway’ is back in action, turning the waters off Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef into whale soup !The humpback whales have arrived early this year, sharing the waters with Ningaloo’s most famous resident – the whale shark. Normally the humpbacks reach Ningaloo at the end of July, on the way to their over-wintering (and birthing) grounds in the Kimberley. Following the humpbacks are pods of killer whales, looking for a humpback calf sized meal.

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The wildlife calander along the Ningaloo Coast is on non-stop rotation, moving from sea turtles, to whale sharks, humpback whales, killer whales, and back to turtles – of course not forgetting the fish, reef sharks and manta rays that call Ningaloo home year round. From July, our guests will often see humpback whales breaching from right out the front of their Wilderness Tents, making it one of the most popular times to visit, as the infamous whale sharks are also still in the area welcoming snorkellers to get a closer look. Did you know the spots covering the sharks are individual to each one? Just like a human’s fingerprint they are used by scientists to identify individual animals and some sharks have been photographed 17 years after first being sighted!

Some recent guests at Sal Salis were lucky enough to swim with 5 different whale sharks, spot a pod of killer whales AND two humpback whales in one day last week – we weren’t lying when we said whale soup!

Ningaloo Reef Pips the ‘Other’ Reef

The Ningaloo Reef has pipped the big guy over East (otherwise known as the Great Barrier Reef) – being named 12th amongst Australia’s top 20 greatest holiday experiences in one of the most comprehensive, unbiased and well considered gazettes published by the Australian Traveller magazine. The list was compiled by a panel of Australian travel and tourism industry experts and had over 12,000 nominations submitted nation-wide.

So what makes the Ningaloo Coast all that much better than the Great Barrier Reef? There’s the opportunity to swim with Ningaloo’s most famous resident, the whale shark (from April to July), the incredible ‘outback to coral reef’ landscape contrasting the red sand and canyon environment with the bright white and blue of the sand and sea, as well as a range of accommodation options, including of course Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef (our favourite)! And the clentcher is you need only wander 50 metres from your wilderness tent and within 10 metres you are snorkelling over the clearest turquoise water on Earth. You’re now snorkelling over 500 species of resident fish and 250 varieties of coral. Right there. No road or boat transfers required!

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Australian Traveller also named swimming with the whale sharks as Number 1 in their list of Australia’s 5 Greatest ‘Swim With’ Experiences.

Click here to view the full list and read a bit more about what makes the Ningaloo Coast special.

Racehorse of The Ocean

What do our Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef guides get up to when no one else is around ….?
The waters off the Ningaloo Reef are renowned as some of the best fishing grounds in the world !
Our camp manager Tristan isn’t letting it go to waste during the off season. He spent an hour out on his kayak wrangling this spanich mackerel on a day off recently. Definitely not an idea for the faint of heart … Tristan tipped over as he pulled in the fish and somehow managed to right the kayak, climb back in AND keep the fish on the hook !

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The spanish mackerel (aka Mackie) are the racehorses of the ocean. These exciting game fish are caught all year round in the tropical Ningaloo waters and once you know how to catch them, you are never short of a bit of action. Can’t say wrestling one from a kayak is recommended though ! This beauty was cooked up with chilli and lime and served fresh off the BBQ – mmMMmm yummo !

It’s not all just sweeping, painting and building during the off season…

Check out www.wildbushfishing.com for more on when to go and what you’ll catch.

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