Eye to eye with sharks

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Whale sharks are part of ev­ery­day life in Ex­mouth, but for chil­dren from Bur­ringur­rah Re­mote Com­mu­nity School, they are a rare sight.

In an in­au­gu­ral trial for a new whale shark swim pro­gram planned for the Coral Coast schools net­work, five stu­dents from the re­mote desert school, about 480km east of Carnar­von, vis­ited Nin­ga­loo last week for a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to swim with the gen­tle giants.

Ex­mouth Dis­trict High School prin­ci­pal Ray Den­holm, who came up with the pro­gram idea, said the six schools which were part of the net­work jointly spon­sored a whale shark and all their stu­dents should be able to have first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of what they were study­ing by vis­it­ing Nin­ga­loo.

“I’m prin­ci­pal of a school in such a beau­ti­ful, pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment, and we’re do­ing some fan­tas­tic work with the CSIRO and . . . I thought ‘why not share the ex­pe­ri­ence?’,” he said.

The se­lected Bur­ringur­rah stu­dents, from Year 5-10, spent the pre­vi­ous month prac­tis­ing swim­ming with masks and snorkels in their lo­cal pool to en­sure they were ocean-ready.

While in Ex­mouth, they also snorkelled on Nin­ga­loo reef, went surf­ing, vis­ited the Nin­ga­loo Cen­tre and the Vlam­ingh Head Light­house look­out, went on a walk­ing tour of the town, and spent time at Ex­mouth Dis­trict High School.

Bur­ringur­rah Re­mote Com­mu­nity School prin­ci­pal Iain Brown­ing, who is also the net­work prin­ci­pal for the Coral Coast schools net­work, said the stu­dents had re­ally en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They got to swim with dugongs and whale sharks and all sorts of an­i­mals,” he said.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence we are try­ing to give these kids is once-in-a-life­time stuff.”

Pic­ture: Sirio Lau­ri­cella/ TheOceanLust

Bur­ringur­rah Re­mote Com­mu­nity School stu­dent Tahlia Jones, 11, goes snorkelling while on a school trip to Ex­mouth to swim with whale sharks.

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