Whale sharks and trailer trash

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday marked Benji's debut in the deep water. We booked ourselves on a glass bottom boat trip which really was good as the reef is very shallow and the boat was structured a little like a submarine so rather than looking down through the bottom of the boat you looked through the windows into the water at all the snapper's swimming by and the reef as you drifted either over it or along the reef walls. Perfect for a 1 year old to experience what Ningaloo has to offer.

The excursion also included a snorkel in water about 3 to 4 metres deep at a point in the reef called The Aquarium due to the sheer number of fish there. So we got Ben's arm bands on and threw him in with the other two, which he loved. He swam about for probably close to 30 minutes before exhaustion hit. The boys had a lot of fun diving down and peering through the portholes of the boat at Benjamin inside....

Wednesday was the Big Day for Brad, me and Zach.  After the manta ray trip, Zach promised us that he was brave enough to do the whaleshark trip, but Jamie felt that it would be just a bit too scary so was happy to stay behind with Benjamin and Skye.  

So, off we went at the crack of dawn, Zach absolutely buzzing with excitement.  He was the youngest on the boat by far, which largely consisted of "grey nomads" although there was 1 other family on board. 

The crew ran through how the day would work and we soon realised that it was going to be proper extreme snorkelling.  How would Zachy fare?!  We all had to do a practice snorkel to make sure we were up to the challenge.  It meant standing on a platform at the back while the boat was moving, ready to leap into the ocean, we were on the open water side of the reef so its between 40 and 60 metres deep, as soon as the engine was cut.  Zach did brilliantly, launching himself into the huge wake and snorkelled like a nutter alongside Brad.  

The practice snorkel was a bit like herding sheep round a large coral, as the grey nomads flapped their flippers excessively, but everyone was deemed competent enough to swim with the whalesharks. 

Now all we had to do was find them......The videographer had boldly stated that we would be swimming by 11 o' clock, and by five to 11 the boat was full steam ahead as the spotter plane had spotted a shark.  Annoyingly we were the last of 3 boats to arrive, and we were in Group 2 on our boat, so by the time it was our turn the whaleshark had dived and we didn't manage to see it. 

A few minutes later though it appeared again and finally we had our moment.  Zach and Brad went first and had an excellent view of the whaleshark - probably an adolescent of around 4-5m long.  "Not as big as I thought it would be" was Zach's comment, and they swam with it for a couple of minutes before it dived ahead of them.  I had a good, if more fuzzy view of it.  Everyone was so excited to have managed to see it....and I think it contributed to Zach's now avid fascination with the creature. 

The next few hours were spent waiting and hoping for another chance to snorkel with the majestic beasts, the largest fish in the ocean.  Sadly, it wasn't to be, but I did see a Minke Whale breaching, and a tiger shark also swam past.  

We finished the day with another speedy snorkel round a site called "The Maze" then headed for home.

Dinner proved to be interesting as we witnessed a proper cat-fight develop between 2 sisters, probably in their '40s, who had wandered over to the bar from the neighbouring campsite.  They were arguing over their kids (who were also there, as was the grandmother and 2 fathers), it all got very heated and loud, and culminated in drinks being thrown and the 2 women wrestling each other, and much hair pulling on the lawn.  All hell broke loose:  the women were screaming, the kids were all screaming, Benji woke up screaming.........and the good old Aussie male continued drinking his beer.  We watched with our jaws on the floor as no one bothered to split them up including grandma or the bar staff.  Eventually the hair pulling stopped and they walked nonchalently back to the campsite.  Amazing..... Between the weird guy in Denham and the bogan cat-fight we are forming an interesting opinion of WA people! 

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Diana on

Zach - well done, perhaps you could ask Dad to find you a bigger whaleshark to see.

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