Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Swimming with humpbacks begins at Ningaloo Reef

Swimming with humpbacks begins at Ningaloo Reef
August 18, 2016

Visitors to Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef now have the chance to swim with humpbacks, after a trial tour operation started earlier this month.

The trial will run for three months - from August to October - to determine whether the operation is viable as a permanent tourist attraction for Western Australia's Coral Coast.

Through the winter an estimated 30,000 humpback whales head up the coast of Western Australia on their journey from Antarctic feeding grounds to warm, temperate breeding grounds in Broome - a round journey that sees them cover about 16,000 kilometres.

With Ningaloo Reef world-renowned for its whale shark and manta ray experiences, the Western Australia Government is running a three month trial at the marine park in Exmouth to determine whether such an operation is viable as a permanent tourist attraction.

Ningaloo Marine Park Coordinator Peter Barnes says Department of Parks and Wildlife is working with independent experts from Murdoch University, Curtin University and the University of Tasmania to monitor the behaviour of the whales throughout the trial.

Barnes explains “we’ve put together quite a comprehensive program of research and monitoring.

“It’s very much at the forefront of our thinking to minimise the impacts or have minimal impact.”

The monitoring program includes aerial flights across the marine park to identify critical habitat as well as mothers and calves (which are not to be swum with), and monitoring behaviour - such as breeching, breeding rates and tail slapping - from research vessels on the water as the whales are interacted with.

Barnes added “we’ll be looking at their behaviour and whether they get distressed, or sometimes it is a positive reaction and there is an attraction to the boat or vessel.”

A set of strict guidelines is also in place - outlining how close vessels and swimmers can get to the whales, how many people can be in the water with them and how long they can be in the water for - to protect the whales.

While the region’s tour operators are seasoned in taking tourists to swim with the world’s largest fish - whale sharks - and manta rays, 15 licenced vessels have now added humpback whales to their schedules.

Each day, spotter planes are sent over the park to identify pods exhibiting passive behaviour, called ‘logging,’ where the whales are resting, and once in the water, Matt Winter - owner of tour operator Ningaloo Whaleshark - says it is important the whales control the interaction.

Winter explained “we don’t swim with the whales, they swim with us.

“These are massive, wild animals that have the potential to cause massive harm so we need to be respectfully sharing the water that they live in.

“We approach the whales as gently and as quietly as we can - no talking. Our job is to be quiet and respectful.”

Not only do swimmers have the opportunity to observe the marine mammals, but also to hear whale song.

If successful, there is potential for a second three-month trial in 2017, and if all goes well next year, the swims could become a permanent Ningaloo experience - one that Matt says will have huge tourism benefits.

Image courtesy of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef.

9th February 2016 - UNESCO TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR ASIA-PACIFIC’S COASTAL AND MARINE WORLD HERITAGE SITES

8th December 2015 - SAL SALIS GIVEN LICENSE TO SWIM WITH HUMPBACKS AT NINGALOO REEF

3rd November 2015 - SWIMMING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES TO BE TRIALLED AT NINGALOO MARINE PARK

23rd July 2015 - ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA’S ECO CERTIFICATION GAINS GLOBAL APPROVAL

 


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

BH Fitness

BH Fitness, part of the long-standing and iconic bike manufacturer BH Group, is a global leader in fitness equipment for both Commercial and Home markets. The company, with the headquarters based in…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness

 
 

Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces

 
 

Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues

 
 

Hydrocare Pool Services

Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 30 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Technology

 
 

AUSFIT

Ausfit began in 1992, providing software services to the health and fitness sector including ClubWise, a fully hosted web-based product which combines state of the art club management software,…

read more

Billing / Finance / Fitness / Technology

 
 

@leisure Planners

@leisure is a team of experienced leisure, aquatic and sports facility managers and planners, with market modelling, sports management, recreation planning, business and GIS qualifications. We have…

read more

Consultants

 
 

XBODY Australia Pty Ltd

PROVEN BUSINESS CONCEPTS WITH XBODY XBody’s goal is to see you and your EMS business succeed. That is why we don’t just sell equipment, we provide know-how, expert knowledge,…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness

 
 

Anti Wave International

Anti Wave International is the original suppliers of top performance swim, aquatic sports, leisure and pool programming equipment. Founded in 1971, Anti Wave International is proud of its…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Sport

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business