Did you know?
Whalesharks are covered by protective legislation in the Republic of the Maldives, the Philippines and off the United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts (Pogonoski et al. 2002).
There are strict regulations which require us to maintain 3 metres distance from the whaleshark at all times, and for our own safety, at least 4 metres from the tail. So touching is out, and entirely inappropriate. (In the past this has resulted in whalesharks diving as they feel threatened, which then means other passengers have not had the opportunity to swim with a whaleshark during their tour.)
We maintain the 3m distance from the whaleshark to ensure there is no stress to the fish, and we are not inhibiting its natural swimming behaviour- which also results in you having a longer swim with it. Three metres is still pretty close! You will be able to see all the beautiful markings on the shark and get a very clear understanding of the difference in size between you and it!
Whalesharks are sharks and therefore a fish, not a mammal. However the diet is more like that of a whale, as they are slow moving filter feeders.
No! Definitely not. Larger whalesharks have huge mouths, over a metre wide, but they are filter feeders and mainly feed on plankton, krill and other micro-organisms, and are not at all interested in humans!
The chances of encountering other species of sharks are very low. However we do occasionally spot a shark from the boat, the plane or on one of our snorkels. The most common sharks we see in the Ningaloo are white tip and black tip reef sharks. These sharks are small and generally very timid and believe it or not, are more scared of you, than you are of it! Our plane has a very clear view of sharks around us most days too. We always have a spotter on lookout onboard the deck just to make extra specially sure, and are always in the water with you ourselves. (Trust us, there is no way we would be there if there was any real danger!) After a while you begin to realise it is a truly lucky and exciting experience to see a shark!
We’ve had four to eighty year olds come out on our whaleshark tours, and have a truly amazing and enjoyable day out with us. So if you are prepared to give it a go, can swim unassisted, and have no medical conditions that could stop you enjoying yourself, we will be doing everything we can to help you experience wonder and swim with a whaleshark yourself. (And hopefully have the photos to prove it!)
You don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer to swim with a whaleshark, and you don’t have to have snorkelled before either, (although it does help!) Our crew includes numerous trained Snorkel Instructors with years of experience teaching people how to snorkel. Our team specialises in helping less confident, nervous and less experienced swimmers into the water, and swimming with a whaleshark. We do everything we can to give each of our customers the experience of swimming with a whaleshark, including using flotation devices (noodles, wetsuits, life jackets) and even tow-ropes to help as needed.
Big hint too – if you are at all nervous, please let your guide know so we can take extra special care of you, and support you as much as possible. Our team are experienced dive professionals who are trained and skilled at making sense of people’s body language and voice tone… but some people are really good at covering up their nervousness. There is absolutely no need to do this on-board If you let your guide know, they will keep an eye on you throughout and do what they can to make your swim as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Children six years or younger are not usually allowed to swim with a whaleshark unless the child has previous experience swimming in the ocean, and the parent is confident in the child’s ability in the water. (Regardless, parents must at all times assume full responsibility for their children whilst on tour for safety reasons.)
For those who don’t want to swim with a whaleshark, our Whaleshark Observer tickets provide a great way of experiencing people swimming with a whaleshark, and seeing this magnificent creature in its nature habitat as it glides effortlessly through the pristine water of the Ningaloo without an apparent care in the world. Whilst still getting to enjoy everything else about the tour, including all other water-based activities.