Tag Archives: whalesharks

Epic encounters with creatures of the deep at Ningaloo Reef

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to swim with the whale sharks? Our social media manager, Jodie, took a trip to Ningaloo last week and went out with our preferred tour operator, Live Ningaloo. Here’s her take on the big bucket list item many people come to Sal Salis to tick!

“I’d been whale sharking before, but it didn’t even come close to the experience I had with Live Ningaloo last week.  As Sal Salis’s social media manager, I’d been working closely with Live Ningaloo for a while. I knew their unique selling points and had high expectations of having a memorable day of swimming alongside whale sharks at Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef.

I’m delighted to say my high expectations were blown out of the water! The tour was INCREDIBLE from start to finish and memorable for so many reasons.

We started the day with some snorkelling and spent some time swimming alongside a beautiful green turtle. and even saw some rays! I have a particular fondness for turtles, so the tour started on a high.

Conditions were optimal – minimal wind, warm temperature, calm water, excellent visibility and not a cloud in the sky. Welcome to ‘winter’ in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area!

It wasn’t long before Live Ningaloo’s spotter plane located a whale shark for us to swim with. One of the main benefits of choosing Live Ningaloo is that they only take ten passengers per tour, which means you get to spend the maximum amount of time swimming with whale sharks. Other vessels take more passengers, but only ten can swim with the whale shark at a time so you take turns with other passengers.

We had received an entertaining and informative brief from Katie (the onboard marine ecologist) and Doug (our attentive deckhand) and were eagerly awaiting the signal to gently enter the water.

There it is! Onboard photographer, Chris Jansen, has spotted the whale shark and Katie is lining us up so that we can form a V around it and follow its path. Masks below the surface, we are all so excited to see the whale shark appear in front of us and we swim as fast as our fins will carry us to keep up with this deceptively fast enormous fish! We must’ve spent about ten minutes swimming with the whale shark, who at approximately four-metres long was a juvenile, but certainly no less impressive than swimming with a larger one.

We jumped back onto the boat, all buzzing from the experience. While were waiting for our next drop, we saw a yellow sea snake float past the boat, which was a first for me. What a beautiful creature.

We were lucky enough to have another three long swims with the same whale shark. One of the great things about the day was that we were all able to see the whale shark from different angles – alongside it near the dorsal fins and also behind its massive tail as it swayed mesmerisingly from side to side.

It was on the last drop that we were in for the biggest surprise… Having swam with the whale shark a few times, we had now worked out what we were supposed to do, so had all found positions alongside it and were swimming along happily when all of a sudden, it disappeared.

I looked up to find Katie to get instructions on where to go when suddenly I saw a humpback whale gently emerge just a few metres away and check us out! No sooner than the whale had appeared, it had disappeared back into the depths. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned around to see if the others had seen it too. I made eye contact with a fellow Sal Salis guest, Barry. Barry’s eyes were like saucers! Barry is an experienced diver and has had some amazing marine experiences under his belt and he was like a kid in a candy store. Chris Jansen, the onboard photographer has also spent a lot of time in the ocean and even he was excited.

We couldn’t stop talking about it. The whale didn’t display any aggressive behaviour, it was just curious, so it popped up to see what was going on and it was AMAZING!

After that, the spotter plan wasn’t able to find our friendly whale shark again, but it was more than fine with us. We finished whale sharking on a high and had time to see other marine creatures.

Our captain, Murray, took us to see some more humpback whales and even found a pod of dolphins who danced around the boat to our delight. We finished the day with a spot of snorkelling over some massive coral bombies and saw many different species of colourful coral and fish.

We went back to Sal Salis that night and couldn’t stop talking about our epic unexpected encounter with not one, but two gentle giants of the deep at Ningaloo Reef.

It was a taste of what is yet to come. Live Ningaloo will run their last whale shark tour of the season on 31 July, and will commence offering humpback whale swims from 1 August. As if we needed another reason to visit! Count us in! Our humpback whale encounter was way to short. We’re not ticking it off the bucket list yet. Care to join us?

 

Swim alongside the stars of Ningaloo Reef during your stay at Sal Salis!

The secret is out: Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef is world-renowned for being one of the most accessible and reliable places in the world to swim with ALMIGHTY WHALE SHARKS!

Growing up to 18 metres in length, whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. They arrive in the Ningaloo Marine Park in early March each year and are followed by tens of thousands of visitors who are lured to the region for the chance to swim with these enormous (and harmless) marine creatures.

Our preferred operator, Live Ningaloo, offers small, bespoke group tours to get up close and personal with whale sharks each year between late March and 31 July. Tours are limited to ten passengers to ensure all on board have a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience with these graceful marine giants.

Ningaloo has solidified its reputation as being a mecca for massive marine experiences over the past few years. Not only can you swim with whale sharks here, you can also swim with humpback whales!

So, if you visit Sal Salis outside of the whale shark season, you can still get the adrenaline rush of having a close encounter with a gentle giant of the ocean. Swimming with humpback whales has only been offered at Ningaloo Reef since 2016, so our guests have the opportunity to be among the first of many to enjoy this unique experience. Guests can join a Live Ningaloo tour to take a dip with magnificent humpback whales between 1 August and 31 October.

While whale sharks and humpback whales pass through the Ningaloo Marine Park annually on a seasonal basis, majestic manta rays can be encountered here all year round. Manta rays have a wing span of up to 5.5 metres wide and watching them ‘dance’ is truly mesmerising.

Although tours are recommended to get up close to whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays, there’s a myriad of marine life to seen close to Sal Salis.

Luckily for our guests, Sal Salis is located within a short stroll of one of the best parts of Ningaloo Reef. Measuring around 300km in length, Ningaloo Reef is one of the largest fringing reef systems in the world. It’s called a ‘fringing reef’ because it’s so close to shore, which means in some parts you can literally step off the beach and start snorkelling within moments of entering the water. This is a major point of difference to the Great Barrier Reef, which is around a two-hour boat ride from Cairns.

The UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo Coast is home to around 500 species of fish and about 250 species of coral, so there’s plenty to see beneath the surface of this pristine stretch of the Indian Ocean located at the northern tip of Australia’s Coral Coast.

The great news is you can see so much of it with a mask and snorkel without venturing far from our luxury camp. Ningaloo is a notable nesting site for green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, and our guests often rave about their encounters with these beautiful creatures at our private beach. Occasionally our guests have even witnessed unseasonable hatching of turtles near our camp.

If you love to be beside the seaside and would like to acquaint yourself with Ningaloo Reef’s many marine species, add Sal Salis to your bucket list!

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Sal Salis Photo Comp

2018 Sal Salis guests are encouraged to enter our photo competition by posting their best photos and videos to our Facebook or Instagram account for the chance to WIN a three-night stay with us in 2019!

Head to our Facebook page to post your photos and videos, tag @Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef and include #SalSalisPhotoComp and #SalSalisNingalooReef hashtags. Or post your content on Instagram, with the aforementioned hashtags. If you are not on social media, please email your photos and videos to info@salsalis.com.au.

Kinky Whale Shark Spotted

Sal Salis guests have been heading to sea in search of whale sharks since 01 April and on the 2nd they spotted the whale shark known as Kinky!!

Each day begins with a transfer to Tantabiddi Boat Ramp, a snorkel test, kitting out in wetsuit & snorkel gear followed by morning coffee as you cruise out into the Indian Ocean.  The spotter plane will be out ahead and looking for the whale sharks.

When they are found our photographer/guide and guests leap into the water ahead of its path and wait as this huge and wonderful giant appears from the shadows.  Sometimes the water is so deep you cannot see the bottom (and you try not to think about what might be down there) but recently we have been lucky and found the whale sharks in quite shallow water.

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So far this month the spotter planes have been seeing up to 20 whale sharks in one day which means the boats are finding 4 or 5 to swim with.

Wave Rider’s skipper Murray was pleased to see that KINKY was spotted on Day 2 of the season.   Researchers give the whale sharks names to identify them and this fellow below really deserves his name.   Murray speculates that this young male (perhaps 15 years old and 5 metres long) was injured when young and he has managed to adapt to his kinky body shape.  Like all sharks, whale sharks have an amazing ability to heel themselves.   Science does not yet have all the answers but it is thought that these gentle giants might live to over 100 years.

Kinky Whale Shark