Bumper whale shark sea­son lapped up

Pilbara News - - PILBARA NEWS - Tom Zaun­mayr

Whale sharks are lov­ing the Nin­ga­loo Reef so much this year, they are stick­ing around a a lit­tle while longer, with oper­a­tors re­cently sight­ing as many as 40 fish in a day.

While the ad­ver­tised whale shark sea­son fin­ishes at the end of July, the star at­trac­tions of the reef have ig­nored the memo, build­ing on a suc­cess­ful 2015 sea­son.

Kings Nin­ga­loo Reef Tours owner Bill McDon­ald said the sea­son so far had been as busy as last year, de­spite los­ing some time be­cause of bad weather more re­cently.

Mr McDon­ald said he had never seen so many whale sharks hang­ing around at this time of year.

“Co­ral Bay has just started to drop off, but we usu­ally have them here for at least six weeks af­ter Co­ral Bay,” he said.

“Gen­er­ally, af­ter this school hol­i­days, things start to drop off but the town is still pump­ing and the car­a­van park is full.

“I reckon they will be here un­til the end of Au­gust at least.”

Mr McDon­ald said this pe­riod could rep­re­sent good value for cus­tomers with oper­a­tors of­fer­ing more bar­gains as com­pe­ti­tion for fewer tourists heated up.

In­dian Ocean Imagery pho­tog­ra­pher Leith Holtz­man said the sea­son had po­ten­tial to be a re­peat of 2013, dur­ing which whale sharks were still be­ing sighted in Oc­to­ber.

“It’s been an amazing year, with not one day where we haven’t seen a whale shark,” he said.

“Nor­mally, the Ex­mouth whale shark sea­son lasts about four to six weeks longer than Co­ral Bay and they are still get­ting lots down there too.”

Whale sharks aside, the re­cent rains have bought the land alive as well, with Cape Range and sur­rounds cov­ered in green and wild­flow­ers start­ing to sprout.

The hump­back whale swim trial is also due to start this week­end, po­ten­tially giv­ing tourists the chance to see mul­ti­ple megafauna species present off the Nin­ga­loo Coast on one trip.

Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

Tourists swim with a 6m whale shark off Cape Range Penin­sula.

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