Visitors flock to Australia’s Coral Coast each year to enjoy the year-round sunshine, get closer to nature and escape crowds. The region begins just two hour’s drive north of Perth at the coastal town of Cervantes and stretches more than 1,000 kilometres north along pristine coastline to Exmouth.

 

Boasting a warm climate all year round, Australia’s Coral Coast offers perfect conditions to enjoy a range of water sports, including swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and boating, while nature lovers also visit to watch humpback whales on their annual migration along the coast between July and October each year.



Coral Coast Whale Sharks


Coral Coast Whale Sharks

About Whale Sharks

  • Latin name: Rhincodon typus
  • Harmless to humans: Although whale sharks are a species of shark they are completely harmless to humans as they are filter feeders
  • Weight: A 12-metre whale shark weighs approximately 11 tonnes with a mouth more than a metre wide
  • Length: Whale sharks are thought to grow up to 18 metres long, but the most frequently encountered size of whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef are between four and five metres
  • Pup length: 55cm – baby whale sharks hatch from an egg case while instead the mother’s body before being expelled into the ocean
  • Mostly male at Ningaloo: The majority of whale sharks seen in the Ningaloo Marine Park are juvenile males
  • Sexual maturity: May not occur until whale sharks are 8-9 metres long (around 30 years old)
  • Diving depth: 1500 metres
  • Lifespan: It’s thought whale sharks have a lifespan of more than 100 years
  • Threats: Illegal fishing, boat strikes
Ningaloo Whale Sharks

 

When Do Whale Sharks Visit Ningaloo?

Whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Marine Park after the annual coral spawning, which usually occurs in March and April. Krill and other tiny sea creatures swarm to Ningaloo Reef to feast shortly after the coral spawning. This phenomenon attracts whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) to Ningaloo Reef to feed on krill, plankton and copepods. Officially the whale shark season starts on 1 April, however the last few years there have been sufficient numbers of whale sharks to start tours around mid March. Tours are expected to run in Coral Bay between mid March and June and from Exmouth between mid March and late July. Tours sometimes continue into August if whale sharks are still in the area. Whale shark spotter planes are commissioned by tour operators during the season to locate whale sharks for tour boats.

 

2012 Whale Shark Tour Statistics

  • Just over 1000 tours conducted throughout the season
  • Coral Coast Swimming with Whale Sharks
  • Success rate 94%

 

Whale Shark Conservation

Ecocean is committed to whale shark research and conservation and has set up a whale shark identification library that people can add their images to. The library is maintained and used by marine biologists to collect and analyse whale shark encounter data to learn more about whale sharks, as not much is currently known about their life story. The library uses photographs of the skin patterning behind the gills of each shark and any scars to distinguish between individual animals.