• Written by Suzanne Fisher

The first whale sharks for the 2016 season arrived almost a month early at Ningaloo Reef on Australia's Coral Coast in Western Australia. Exmouth operator Ningaloo Blue Dive started their tours from Wednesday 17 February with a very inquisitive eight (8) metre long whale shark that delighted the tour group. Ningaloo Blue is currently offering a special tour price of AUD $285 per adult (normally $395) from now until 17 March 2016 to coincide with GAMEX, one of the largest Game Fishing tournaments in the southern hemisphere, held 11 to 19 March 2016 in Exmouth.

In Australia, the Ningaloo Reef is the only place you can swim with the world's largest fish, the whale shark, and notes the world's highest reliability rate of whale shark numbers and accessibility of interaction.

Wholesale travel specialist Broome, Kimberley & Beyond and QANTAS have come on board to celebrate with its lowest Ningaloo package yet. Explore Ningaloo Marine Park and the magnificent Cape Range National Park with return flights to Exmouth $298 p/p ex PER, $570 ex ADL, $680 ex MEL/SYD/BNE. Stay four nights to qualify for airfare and bonus deals which are subject to availability.  Travel is from 27 APR to 14 DEC with some block out dates.  On sale 1 to 31 MAR or until sold out. 

Exmouth Visitor Centre General Manager, Kristy Bryan-Smith said the early arrival of whale sharks this year was good news for visitors. “The typical season for Ningaloo whale sharks is March-August, triggered by the annual Ningaloo Reef coral spawning which takes place around the full moon in March. To see whale sharks arriving before this event is a really good sign for a long whale shark season ahead and great for visitors, particularly with the Easter public holiday weekend falling in March this year.”

Whale shark movements to and from the Ningaloo Reef vary from year to year, but this is the second year that the world's largest fish have arrived earlier and stayed longer. Whale sharks have also been sighted off Coral Bay and whale shark swim tours are expected to begin operating out of Coral Bay shortly. 

The Ningaloo is one of the only places on the planet where these huge but completely harmless fish can be reliably located in large aggregations. Whale Sharks are listed as 'vulnerable to extinction' and are protected in Western Australia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, the reef stretches for 300 kilometres and home to over 500 fish species, six turtle species, manta rays, dolphins and whales.

For more information or travel itineraries, visit Australia's Coral Coast -

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