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Swim With Whale Sharks
Whale Shark Swimming at Ningaloo
For an awsome travel experience, definitely consider a swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo during your next holiday in Western Australia. Whale shark watching tours leave daily from both Coral Bay and Exmouth between April and July (weather permitting).
Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo, on a tour from Coral Bay or Exmouth. Photo courtesy of Tourism WA:
Whale sharks are slow swimmers compared to most other creatures of the deep, but the experience of swimming alongside one of them is fast, exiting and slightly frantic. You'll find you have to really kick your legs hard to keep up with them (or at least I did)!
No matter which tour you go with, they all have the same rules about swimming with the sharks.
Firstly, you will swim with the whale shark in a group that has a maximum of 10 people. The main reason for this rule is to avoid frightening the shark, but it also gives everyone in the group a better chance of getting a good look on each swim. While on some swims you'll have an amazing, clear view of the whale shark, on some of the others you'll go in the wrong direction or be left behind - lost and disoriented in the bubbles from the group's swimming.
Groups of swimmers approach the whale shark from the side at an angle. They are never in front of the whale shark's head. This rule also is to avoid causing the shark fear or distress.
Whale Shark Swimming FAQ's
Is it safe to swim with whale sharks?
Yes. Whale sharks pose no real threat to the humans who choose to swim with them. They have no known predators to be aggressive towards, and their prey doesn't even come close to resembling humans. There's no chance whatsoever of a whale shark mistaking you for a tasty seal and gobbling you up. Unlike other well known sharks, the whale shark is a docile and friendly filter-feeder.
There is one potential risk though: the whale shark has a powerful tail and if you get too close, you may be unintentionally hit. This is why you'll be instructed to stay least 4m away from the tail.
Of course, it should go without saying that you need to know how to swim in order to be safe while swimming with the whale sharks! (See the next point.)
Do you need to be a good swimmer?
Yes, you do need to know how to swim, and be a half-decent swimmer. You don't, however, need to be a fast swimmer. You'll be wearing flippers, so all you have to do is kick your legs as fast as you can and let the flippers to most of the work.
Do you feel confident about swimming way out in open ocean where the water's so deep you can't see the sea-floor? What about if there's a large swell? This might feel scary or disorienting, but just remember, it's all part of the adventure.
How must the whale sharks feel about us swimming them?
Noone will ever know for sure, but it seems that they don't mind us swimming with them at all.
If a whale shark ever feels at all threatened, it will dive down deep very quickly rather than keep swimming at the surface.