Swimming with whale sharks in Australia

by Kate Moran

If you have read our blog ‘The bucket list’, you would have seen that our number one was swimming with whale sharks in Australia. 

The chance of swimming alongside one of the biggest fish in the world was an incredible life-changing experience, that we won’t forget in a hurry!  

We thought we would fill you in with everything you need and want to know

First things first, is it a whale or a shark? 

Its a shark, but don’t panic! A whale shark is a filter feeder (they don’t eat humans), they eat one of the tiniest organisms, plankton.

Where to spot a whale shark? 

You need to get yourself to Exmouth, Western Australia. There are many other places in the world, like the Philippines where you can swim with whale sharks. But we believe Exmouth to be the best for ethical practices towards these spotted creatures.

Exmouth is also home to the Ningaloo Reef. Ningaloo Reef is a beautiful part of Australia in its own right. Beautiful corals, reef sharks, stingrays, and fish! 

Before you pack your bags and book your flights, make sure you plan your visit around the whale shark season. This begins in March and continues through to August. If you’re lucky, you can also spot Humpbacks in July and August too. 

We managed to see dolphins, dugongs, a Humpback whale and four whale sharks in July 2019. 

Secondly, you’ll need to book a tour with a local company. 

Charles and I booked ‘Three Islands Whale Shark Dive’, this company, in particular, had great ethical practices on how to view whale sharks without disturbing them or their surroundings. We haven’t been paid to promote this tour company, but we do recommend it to everyone we know!

Before anyone enters the water a full safety briefing was given. This included reconfirming the distance of three meters away from the whale shark at any time. Divers had to remain behind the front fins, towards the back of the whale shark at all times. (No touching allowed!)

How to find a Whale Shark? 

Whale sharks swim only a few meters below the surface of the water making them easy to spot. However, they can also dive hundreds of meters below! 

Three Islands Whale Shark Dive have their own helicopter, the pilot finds the whale sharks and radios the location to the Captian on the boat. From the first time the pilot spots one, the tour company is only allowed to spend one hour maximum with that whale shark, this is usually split into two swims.

Thirdly, enjoy the experience!

If and when you swim with a whale shark it’s such a celebration. Only 1% of the world’s population have swum with a whale shark! 

As the tour comes to an end and all whale shark diving has been completed, Three Island Whale Shark Dive ends the day with a glass of champagne as you sail back to shore. (What’s not to love?!)

It’s worth mentioning;

Three Island Whale Shark Dive provides all the snorkeling equipment for the day, including flippers.  They also provide morning tea and a full lunch buffet during the tour and the food was insane! 

We were warned that the whale sharks swim extremely fast, and you would need to be a strong swimmer to keep up with them as they effortlessly swim meters in seconds. (The flippers help with the swimming!)

Swimming with whale sharks in Australia is not always guaranteed.

You might not be able to see or swim with a whale shark on the day, so you’ll need a lot of patience, you spend a lot of time waiting on the boat. If you are unlucky and miss a whale shark, Three Islands Whale Shark Dive offers a refund, or a chance to return on the next available day. 

Have you swum with whale sharks before? or maybe it’s on your bucket list?

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Kate Moran July 13, 2020 - 6:09 am

Very good point! Im unsure myself, but will be looking into travel boards as we speak! Thank you for your comment! x

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