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Published: April 13th 2014
Friday 11th - popped into a Coral Bay to see what was there - beautiful beach, blue seas and lots of activities from kayaking to clubbing! This is where our 3 German girls were heading. Terrain was constantly changing from desert to green areas with more livestock including 3 horses. The desert areas were a forest of termite mounds (we learnt later that although termites are blind every termite mound entrance faces magnetic north - not many people know this!!! As we approached Exmouth there were some very moving memorials to the Australian Special Operations units from WW2 together with various mementos of the American WW2 involvement in this region. Into our powered site for the night did all the domestics before an early night as today's temperatures had reached 45 degrees and we were due to be picked up tomorrow for our Whale Shark Swimming at 7.00 am!
Saturday 12th - WOW what a day - where to begin. Picked up by mini bus and taken to the Exmouth Dive Centre for our briefing, signed the waivers stating that we were competent snorkellers (well we had done it once 5 years ago). We did tell the team
who said 'no worries'. Only 19 in our group (from Japan, Holland, Spain, Australia, England and our 3 German girls again) a great group and we all got on really well. Shane the skipper, a great guy all hair and teeth, introduced the Crew. More briefings then fitted out with wetsuits, snorkels, masks and fins. More detailed instructions on how to safely swim with Whale Sharks, Lyn concerned she might be a liability but the crew reassured her that they would make sure she would be OK. There were very strict rules about not swimming too close (3 metres distance) and not in any way upsetting the Whale Shark. Divided into 2 groups to practice getting in and out of the water quickly and safely and then it was off for a practice snorkel in the sheltered waters inside the reef. Crystal clear water, great visibility and lots to see around the reef itself. Lyn had crew member Melody with her to help and guide her. All survived the practice, another roll call to make sure everyone was picked up and then it was around the reef into the deeper sea.
Within minutes the spotter plane radioed in that
there was a Whale Shark near the surface so each group of 9 or 10 went in with their crew member to swim alongside this huge,majestic animal. Lyn had Melody to give her support so we were all able to swim by the side and try and keep up. You could only manage this for a limited time then it was back in the boat to get in front of it again. All together we had 5 dives with 2 different Whale Sharks - one 4.5 metres long the other over 6 metres. WOW what an enormous privilege - a huge matchbox moment, never to be forgotten. Then it was lunch with a delicious gourmet lunch before heading back inside the reef for more snorkelling around the coral. Lyn now snorkelling unaided! A huge variety and number of fish, all colours, all sizes, ranging from big shoals of multi-coloured small fish to big rays and even a white-tipped reef shark. Absolutely stunning. Lyn had a 1.5 metre shark pass just below her but didn't know how to signal everyone. One of the crew saw a tiger shark a few minutes later and everyone was told to get back in board
the boat fairly quickly. Still not sure if this was for safety reasons or that it was a rare sighting - how typical that Lyn would blithely swim over the top if it!
We finished our swim and the crew then provided us with champagne, beer and fruit - a fitting end to a perfect day. Group photograph with the crew then back to shore, into the minibus for a return to base. We said goodbye to our 3 German girls and ended up drinking tea with David and Pamela, 2 retired Aussies who are travelling in their luxurious Winnebago and on the site next to our Maui van.
Very weary but exhilarated so off to bed, tomorrow we move on.
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