The four month trial of swimming with humpback whales commenced on Monday 1 August 2016 in Coral Bay and Exmouth on Australia’s Coral Coast, with immediate interaction success in both locations.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said that 11 tour operators from the Ningaloo region were participating in the trial, with about 200 people booking tours in the first week alone.
The world’s largest humpback whale population, estimated at 30,000, annually migrates south along the Ningaloo Reef. Tourists have the chance to get close to the humpbacks as spectators on-board a boat, or while in the water as they swim past or rest in the temperate Ningaloo waters. To ensure the safety of the swimmers, and the welfare of the whales, only five (5) people will be in the water at any one time
Unlike the Ningaloo Whale Shark tours that run from March to July, the Humpback Whale tours will be conducted over the entire area of the Ningaloo Marine Park waters, which includes the 300 kilometres of reef between Coral Bay and Exmouth, the North-West Cape, Lighthouse Bay, the Murion Islands, concluding at Bundegi Beach within the Exmouth Gulf.
Exmouth Dive Centre crew member, Patrick Horgan, noted this of his whale interaction experience earlier in the week:
“The suspense was continually building as the whales slowly approached us. Time stood still for a moment. I could not believe that I was finally swimming with a humpback whale! We watched for a few moments before the whales slowly roused and swam off at a relaxed pace.”
Ningaloo’s newest whale shark and humpback licence operator, Live Ningaloo, who has partnered with Luxury Lodges of Australia glamping accommodation Sal Salis, were successful day on 4 August. Their marketing manager, Sonia Beckwith, said
“we are treating it holistically and offering our guests the very best tour we can muster, based on what the wildlife is doing for the day. It’s an adventure, an expedition of sorts, and we don’t know what we will find, or in this case, if every pod of humpback whales we spot will want to interact. Swimming is included if the opportunity presents itself.
Coral Bay Ecotours has had two successful interaction tours. Owner, Roger Bailye, noted yesterday’s tour experienced
“two successful swims today and the [whale] watching was magnificent.”
Celebrating five years of UNESCO World Heritage status, the Ningaloo Coastline stretches for 300 kilometres and home to 500 fish species, six turtle species, manta rays, dolphins and of course whale sharks.
Exmouth operators are still swimming with whale sharks in addition to humpbacks, when possible. Where else on earth can you swim with whale sharks, humpback whales and mantra rays – all in one day? At Ningaloo, you can!
The humpback whale tour trail will run until 30 November 2016. See the video and learn more about the experience, including operators, tour price inclusions and how to book. For more information visit Australia’s Coral Coast.