Friday, March 31, 2017

Ningaloo Reef

Tour Day 4

That's a whale shark in their logo - WA is one of the
spots in the world where you can swim with them.

The whole reason I took the Aussie Wanderers tour was to see the Ningaloo Reef.  It’s a fringe reef, so, unlike the Great Barrier Reef that requires an hour boat ride to reach it, this reef comes right up to the shore.  Also, because Western Australia (WA) is so remote, it doesn’t have as much human interference or traffic, so the coral and the sea life are more abundant and much healthier.  I did a day tour with Ningaloo Reef Dive to see the Manta Rays.  I didn’t realize when I booked that you had the option to scuba dive (or I would have), so I only snorkeled.  The visibility in the water was amazing though, and I saw so many things.  On our first guided snorkel we saw tons of Black-Tipped Reef Sharks, some were quite large, and two sea turtles!  One of the turtles was only about 3 feet from me, so I was able to get a close-up.

Had to snap a picture of this coral - don't you love its funny face?

 Of course there were fish galore: trumpet fish, parrot fish, and lots of other fish of which I don’t know the names.  We had a snack back on board the boat and waited for our spotter plane to find us some Manta Rays.  Once the plane found them and directed our boat to them, Jen, our snorkel guide, jumped in to keep an eye on them so each group (we’d been split in two) could get to them.  On the signal we quickly slid into the water and swam hard over to Jen.  They were HUGE -- a bit freaky looking as well, but very cool.  We even saw 2 at one time, which is quite rare according to Jen.  One of the rays even had two sharks swimming along underneath it.  You know it was great when the staff is super excited (or “frothing” as they like to say).

It was coming right at me, so I had to get out of the way!!

Back on the boat we had a nice lunch while cruising around (another boat had spotted a whale earlier, so we went searching for it but never saw it).  We did, from the boat thankfully, spot a tiger shark.  There was a “bait ball” (a big swarm of fish swimming really tightly together) and the sharks were trying to get the fish up to the surface so they could eat them.  On our last snorkel of the day we saw a cowrie shell, which is extremely rare to spot during the day.  The water here is an incredible shade of aquamarine, absolutely stunning.  Back at the hostel I met up with our group and we set off for Exmouth, where we’d spend the night in a bug free hostel!

Coral Bay, Western Australia

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