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Published: September 7th 2010
up-close and personal
photo by DS
Now this was the reason for our whole trip to Western Australia! And let me tell you, it was not a disappointment. I can say I have been lucky enough to travel and see some great things throughout the world, however this experience will forever sit near the top. My travel companions and I took what would then be an easy 550km drive from Tom Price and into Exmouth, WA. We figured this would be our best point of attack for the whale shark excursions since Exmouth seemed to be the biggest town on that area of the coast.
Once you are in Exmouth they are several tour operators to choose from. They only allow 18 persons on each boat - 2 groups of 9 to swim with the Whale Sharks. The good thing is that they are GUARANTEED if you are there in-season. If you booked and did not have the opportunity to snorkel with the sharks, you were given a return trip at a later date (assuming the next day). Most of the tour operators share a spotting helicopter so it isn't likely that you will miss out. The sharks are HUGE and can easily be spotted from the air.. and during the season (March-July) they spend their time in shallow waters within a short trip from the coast.
We went with 'Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours' and made a great choice. The staff was friendly and personable and we were given a once in a lifetime experience (although Kings can't receive credit for it). As you can see in the picture, the Whale Shark was very curious in us and swam in circles around us. At one point I had to bring my knees to my chest as he swam by or I would have kicked him in the face. The Kings staff informed us that this was not normal behaviour, only having happen 2-3 times in all their years of tours. The shark took an interest in us and wanted to explore more. Once we finally we able to board the boat the shark continued to circle the boat for a short time.
What an experience!
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