Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Reef between March and July annually following the mass spawning of coral in late February/early March.
In 2018 over 32,054 people visited Ningaloo specifically to swim with the world’s largest fish, considered a bucket list experience.
Our Top 5 reasons
1. We are World Record Holders
Ningaloo Reef currently holds the world’s highest rate of whale shark numbers and accessibility of interaction boasting a 97% sighting rate in 2016 and 94% rate in 2017. Ningaloo is one of the only places on the planet where these huge but completely harmless fish can be reliably located in large aggregations.
2. Our Eco-Tourism Practices
A percentage of each whale shark tour ticket sold goes towards important whale shark research and conservation completed by Dr Brad Norman of ECOCEAN, who has identified more than 7,500 individual whale sharks in the global monitoring database including over 1,300 from Australia alone. This research helps the world to understand more about the fish species.
3. No Sighting Policy
All tour operators offer a “no sighting” policy, giving guests the next available tour day free of charge. Tourists are encouraged to book a whale shark tour in advance (before your flights and accommodation!) and at the beginning of a holiday with tours running March to August (Exmouth) and March to end of June (Coral Bay).
4. We Capture the Moment for You!
All 11 Ningaloo whale shark operators have an underwater photographer or videographer on board who can provide a lasting memento of the day’s swim. So all you have to do is take in the incredible experience, knowing someone else is going to make you look good next to these big boys!
5. Learn from the Best
Each Ningaloo whale shark experience includes on-board education from dive instructors, most of whom are marine biologists/scientists. Additionally, many tour operators employee staff who are bilingual, so there's a chance they will speak your language (or at the very least, "speak to whale sharks" and make sure you have a great time).
And 5 bonus reasons!
1. More than just the big fish
You won't just see whale sharks on tour, our marine park is so pristine that there is 500 varieties of tropical fish, six species of sea turtle, numerous types of oceanic and coastal rays including manta rays, dolphins, dugongs and whales!
2. Take your time
The average time we spend in the water on any one "jump" with a whale shark is 12 minutes and 50 seconds. We suggest you take your time, take in the incredible serenity of the experience and marvel at the unique constellation of white spots patterning its grey body as each whale shark is different (just like a zebra's stripes!)
3. Harmless to humans
Whale sharks are vegetarians (well sort of, they do eat the odd krill fish) mostly dining on plankton. In fact their
gullet is only the size of a golf ball.
4. Leaders in research
Ningaloo leads the way world wide when it comes to research. In fact, in 2019, Exmouth is hosting the International Whale Shark Conference where marine biologists, scientists and tourism operators gather together to learn and protect whale sharks
5. We know what we're doing
Whale Sharks have been known to visit Ningaloo since 1989 with the first formalised tours offered in 1993. We know that in 1995, 1000 people swam with a whale shark. Now 25 years later, over 30,000+ people visit from all over the world to swim with them annually.