The Ningaloo Reef’s Whale Shark season starts in March and runs through to August where they are spotted almost on a daily basis. Although rare, these gentle giants of the sea can sometimes be spotted later in the year during our Ningaloo Eco Experience tours.
Humpbacks are typically seen during the months of June – October during their annual migration from their winter feeding grounds in the icy cold waters of Antarctica up to their summer breeding grounds on the North West Shelf. It’s estimated that 40,000 whales pass through Ningaloo’s glistening waters each year, with the waters providing a refuge and resting stop for mothers and their newborn calves on their long journey back to Antarctica.
Mass Coral Spawning on Ningaloo occurs during March, April and May (which helps to attract the whale sharks in large numbers). This wonderous event is a spectacular sight with coral spawning on a single night, or over a few successive nights. This phenomenon is linked to seawater temperature, lunar phases, and other factors such as light and dark daily cycle.
Dugongs and Dolphins
Dugong’s and Dolphins can be seen all year round. The Bottlenose Dolphin is the most commonly sighted dolphin, although the crystal clear shallow lagoon waters are the resident playground for one of the largest populations of the threatened (and elusive) Australian (Indo-Pacific) humpback dolphin.
Spinner dolphins, known for their showmanship and ability to leap and ‘spin’ an incredible seven times in the one leap, can also be occasionally seen in the picturesque clear waters.
Attracted by the healthy underwater seagrass fields, the Dugong (sometimes referred to as a Sea Cow) is endangered in most parts of the world, but a common sighting in Ningaloo. These shy creatures can weigh up to 400kg and are up to 3m in length and are nature’s only vegetarian sea mammal.
Manta Rays can be seen all year round, however, large numbers of the majestic creatures can be seen soaring through Ningaloo’s waters during the months of May through to September.
Another gentle giant, they can reach up to 7m, do not have a barb like their smaller cousin the stingray, and are often highly interactive and playful. Swimming amongst these magnificent creatures is a mesmerising experience. Ningaloo is the only place in Western Australia that you have the opportunity to have an in-water interaction – a truly intimate and ethereal experience.
If we happen to find a manta ray during your tour and we have the time, we’ll try our best to get you in the water for an interaction. However, if swimming with manta rays is on your bucket list, then a visit to Coral Bay is a must. With their year-round population and daily tours, Coral Bay is an hour and a half drive from Exmouth and the best place to join a manta ray tour.