Whale sharks are tremendous creatures and ever so intimidating when you swim with them near Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Huge in body, powerfully muscled and generally considered very peaceful animals, they are a compelling sight as they move through the sea. Despite their name, these sharks do not eat people like their more famous cousins do, instead straining plankton with their complex mouths. Swimming alongside one can be an incredible experience, and for those with a vacation package to Australia, they’re well worth the effort of tracking down.
The excursions range from scuba dives to simple snorkeling trips. A senior supervisor is present to make sure the event is handled properly, so there need not be any undue fears of “doing it wrong” so long as their advice is followed. Most advise keeping about 10 feet away from the shark. For those of us quite used to our time on land, even that distance can be an enticing, exhilarating thrill. Ten feet is less distance across than the average room in a house, and that’s how close these dives bring people to these incredible, gorgeous creatures.
The encounters are usually brief, with the party setting out for the day’s excursion on a boat. This is a great part of any Australian vacation, with the bright sun in the sky and the salt of the ocean in the air. When the main guest of the party is spotted, the group prepares, then scrambles into the waters and watches in awe as the powerful creature slides by. From testimonials, the sharks are quite aware of the visitors’ presence, but are completely unconcerned and just continue on their way, turning aside only if necessary.
Whether your interest is just in a brand new experience to share with friends and family or you’re secreting a passion for marine biology, take a little time out of your vacation schedule to have a look at a real powerhouse of the sea.