A whale of a time with whale sharks

Photo of “George” by Ollie Clarke

After years of dreaming about going swimming with the whale sharks off the coast of Exmouth, Western Australia, my family and I finally did it! I had built-up expectations after all those years and I am very happy to report that I was not disappointed. In fact the experience in mid 2021 surpassed all my expectations. What an amazing day that I am sure I will never forget! My husband and 11-year-old daughter were equally impressed.

Swimming alongside these gentle giants was an other world experience. And it was the expert crew from Ocean Eco Adventures that made it all possible. Everything from spotting the whale sharks with their own spotter craft, to teaching us how to get into the water in formation, to leading us as we kept abreast with the whale sharks. Capturing the moment for us was a professional photographer Ollie Clarke who did an awesome job capturing all of our “bucket list” moments.

Prized whale shark moment for Lily. Photo by Ollie Clarke.

Throughout the day we had nine swims with six different whale sharks. We nicknamed our whale sharks to keep them straight in our heads and “George” will always stand out in my mind as he was our first encounter. They are all different looking in their own special way – in shape, size and dot markings. Their markings very much reminded me of Aboriginal dot art. They were also different in behaviour, with some cruising slow enough to keep up to them as we swam alongside (you do have some fitness to achieve that), and others gliding through the water in a straight line, while some could be a little more challenging to keep up with. They are wild fish after all!

When we weren’t in the water, we were treated to knowledgable insights about the whale sharks and other marine life, as well as being treated to food and drinks. And to top it all off, we also had a couple of hump back whales cruise alongside the boat on our way back to Exmouth. What a special moment. My family and I can’t wait to get back into the water for a repeat of our “bucket list” experience. It’s just too much of an amazing experience to restrict it to a “once in a lifetime” event.

Keeping up with the whale sharks off the coast of Exmouth. Photo by Ollie Clarke.

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