Are you a lover of the swim with whale sharks?
One of the most popular activities in the Ningaloo is swimming with the whale shark. The largest fish in the world. The area between Exmouth to Ningaloo presents in the summer. One of the highest concentrations of this animal in the world, making it ideal to interact with it. However, in recent years the demand for this activity has led to an increase in permits and the number of boats that go out from march to October to do it.
There are many questions from travelers regarding this activity and this article intends to answer some of them.
It is safe?
The whale shark, although it is a shark and can be the size of a bus, eats plankton. That’s right, one of the largest animals on the planet eats one of the smallest. They don’t eat meat, they don’t even have teeth, so don’t worry, the whale shark isn’t going to bite you. You have to be careful with the size of the animal and particularly with its tail. As they are so large that if you get too close it can hit you.
You have to know how to swim. Curiously, the greatest danger may be other tourists. That I will tell you later.
Is it dangerous for the animal?
In many parts of the world, there are interactions with whale sharks and none have been shown to disturb or affect the animal by swimming with them. What is true is that the boats in which tourists are taken have come to hurt these majestic animals.
It is expensive?
The answer is yes, it is expensive. Especially now that it has become so popular, prices for whale shark swimming range from 1,800 to 3,500 pesos per person. The further you are from the enlistment point, the more expensive the activity due to transportation. When the season is low and there is no security to see sharks the price is cheaper but you will get the price at whale sharks Exmouth.
Where can it be done from?
The activity is offered practically throughout the Ningaloo, but the point where it takes place is the same, between Ningaloo and Exmouth. So the further you are from this point, the travel time that can be 5 or more 10 mins must be taken into account, including road and navigation.
The most practical places to do it at whale sharks Ningaloo
Is it ethical?
This is a difficult question and I will try to answer it by narrating my experience.
A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to swim with a whale shark. We left Adelaide and along the way we were fortunate to see many dolphins. This activity excited me a lot because I had wanted to do it for years but due to various situations, the opportunity had not been given.
Approaching the sighting point, I managed to see a large spot in the distance, as if it were an island. What was my surprise that as we got closer I could realize that what I thought was an island was actually the huge number of boats with tourists that were waiting for the sharks to rise to the surface to start the activity?
I must confess that this was a great disappointment. I knew it was a popular activity but I had no idea how popular. There were about 40-50 boats hunting this majestic fish. All full of tourists from all over the world.
The problem is that the whale shark is a wild animal and you cannot control the number of them that come up to the surface to feed, at which point it is used to swim with them. That day only 4 went up, imagine 4 whale sharks for 40 boats!
When my turn finally came. I didn’t hesitate for a second to jump into the water and swim next to this giant. I swam with all my might to catch up with their rhythm but boy are they fast. Suddenly I felt something heavy fall on me.
That heavy something was nothing more than a tourist who had just jumped into the water to swim with the shark. Disconcerted I let the animal and the shark pass hahahahaha and returned to the boat. My swim lasted less than a minute. We could no longer swim with him. Sometimes when there is some swimming is prohibited and only allowed to see them.
I was very disappointed. He had read dozens of times about the magic of this experience. However, my experience was completely different.
Of course, I have known people whose history is the opposite of mine and they have had the shark almost to themselves, swimming for a long time with it, but I am afraid to say that that is not the rule.
What can we do?
In my opinion, if swimming with the whale shark is not a dream of your entire life, it is best to avoid doing it, at least until the situation is regulated (if it does happen) and a balanced solution can be found for humans and sharks. . In theory there are many rules for this activity. Only two people can jump into the water at the same time. A correct distance between others must be maintained. But the reality is that people from all over the world pay to do it and they don’t always follow it to the letter.
Unfortunately one of the solutions is to reduce the number of participants, permits, and increase the price. Although it is already high. I believe that sustainable tourism models such as whale shark Exmouth can be successfully applied to activities like this. There the permits cost is low on per person. Only about 80 can visit gorillas on a daily basis, balanced.
Another solution would be to considerably reduce the number of participants, but this would obviously be reflected in profits and the reality is that where there is no money there can be no conservation. Hopefully, the activities and the locals understand the delicate environment and how mass tourism can affect it.
We as travelers can do our part to avoid doing this type of activity. And If something truly profound does not move us. If you want your photo for Instagram, check activity or simply because you have nothing better to do, DO NOT DO IT.
If you are in Exmouth, an alternative whale shark tour is a visit to whale sharks Exmouth, which you can see in this video or enjoy the spectacular bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence is a natural spectacle that occurs thanks to plankton (the same one that whale shark eats) that, like fireflies, light up when the water is shaken.
For this to happen, several factors are necessary.