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Perth Scuba

Ningaloo

Written by Joey PoolThe Perth Scuba group in Ningaloo

On Thursday 15th March 2012, Joey and 8 of Perth Scuba divers arrived in Coral Bay on the Ningaloo Reef to start a 5 day adventure diving, sailing and snorkeling this giant marine wonderland. The group consisted of a big range of experience all the way from a newly qualified Open Water Diver, a Marine Biologist with 1000’s of dives under her belt and even a Dive Instructor too – not PADI but we didn’t hold that against Izak!

We were welcomed by Lannie from Sail Ningaloo and shown to our home for the next 4 nights – The Shore Thing – ‘Shore Thing’ is a purpose built and beautifully appointed, live-aboard sailing catamaran, 51 feet in length and 27 feet in width. Being a catamaran she is extremely comfortable and stable, both at sea and at anchor. We jumped aboard and were met by the skipper Luke, Prue our Dive Master and Viccy who was on her first voyage and help Lannie in the galley.

After our safety briefing we were shown to our cabins, which were clean and comfortable, but of course we weren’t going to be spending much time there! So after throwing down our gear we were quickly back on deck to watch as we sailed out of Coral Bay. The waters were a beautiful torquoise although the shore was currently red and stinky *telling it like it is* and this was due to the coral spawning from the night before – this only happens a few nights a year and were told if we were lucky it would happen again tonight. Myself and the crew had never experienced this before so we were looking forward to our first dive on Ningaloo Reef – at night!

We geared up and headed to our mooring just out of Coral Bay for the evening and watched the sun slip towards the horizon… *SPLASH* We hit the water, switched on our torches and descended into the night to see what we could find. Everywhere you shone your torch there was colourful and healthy coral, shrimp hid within its grasp, hermit crabs scurried across the white sand and small fish darted away from our torches. And then there in the distance there was small styrafoam balls floating off the coral… Hang on?!? That’s not styrafoam – that’s coral spawn! It was certainly a strange thing to watch this colourful coral with little white balls being pushed from its depths and floating off into the night. We surfaced after what seemed like too short a time and were greeted with dinner – oh yummo – and there went all intensions of a diet! Lannie’s cooking on board was fantastic and was the perfect end to a dive!

The next day we set sail early and headed north along the coast to find a cleaning station. We geared up and jumped into the water and headed towards a big coral bombie, only to be greeted by a Grey Reef Shark with his mouth WIDE OPEN! No he wasn’t about to attack, he was just getting his teeth cleaned by the wrasse that had made the Cabbage Coral home. This was our new Open Water divers first encounter with a shark and I swear I heard the excited yelling through his regulator! After this exciting dive we explored coral walls teaming with fish life, watched turtles dart away with us and then we hit the big time – 20+ Manta Rays barrel rolling over and over and over again! After a HUGE day of diving we settled down into MORE FOOD – oh dear – diet is definitely OVER!

Next morning after a technical issue with the generator we headed back into Coral Bay to refill the cylinders and continue diving the spectacular Ningaloo Reef. That morning we descended onto another cleaning station for smaller fish where we were circled by a giant Spanish Mackerel, coral trout sat with jaws wide whilst shrimp darted in and out of their teeth, sweetlips sat patiently whilst wrasse cleaned out their gills and thousands of glass fish flashed before our eyes. This was an awesome spot and I would happily dive this same location over and over again… The following two days were a blur of diving, snorkelling and relaxing as we sailed through the torquoise waters surrounding Coral Bay. Evenings were gorgeous with pink and orange sunsets, enjoyed with a cold drink in hand and balmy evenings not dropping below 25°C.

Our final day on the reef we headed to Pelican Point which is a marine sanctuary where only Sail Ningaloo treads… OMG! The reef was just immaculate with fields of Blue Staghorn Coral, giant Plate Corals, crystal clear water and white sand. On this one snorkel we saw so much life including a Nurse shark, blue spotted rays, colourful reef fish, big cow tail rays, juvenile turtles AND a Leopard Shark *squeal* Yes, I was more than a little excited by this one creature!!! The leopard shark patiently sat whilst I flashed away with what Tib’s called “The Oil Rig”… Luckily its not quite that heavy!

That was it for our water play – most of us were flying out the following day so there was no more diving. That evening we enjoyed another beautiful meal prepared by Lannie once again (with Dessert!) and a few drinks whilst the sun set over the water. Next morning we had a leisurely sail back to Coral Bay and said goodbye to the wonderful Sail Ningaloo Crew who had looked after us so well and the vessel which had been our home for the past 5 days…

Final thoughts of the trip… This is my second dive trip to the Ningaloo Reef and I must say, I rate this OVER the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a beautiful part of our state and one not to be missed. The coral and fish diversity is very healthy and not exploited like other parts of the world. With Qantas now flying to Exmouth for as little as $250 return you too could enjoy this scenic part of our state. If you’d like to join Perth Scuba in Ningaloo on our next trip please contact us for further details.

Here’s just a few of the photographs I took both above and below the water at the Ningaloo Reef. I hope you enjoy them!

All photographs are available for purchase from Perth Scuba.

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