5 Days Diving, Snorkeling & Manta madness

March 20, 2012

20th March 2012 saw us head out for 5 days and 5 nights to explore the northern reaches of the Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay. Following an informative presentation on Manta Rays in the area, by local researcher Frazer McGregor on the first evening, the group were enthusiastic to set out to explore the reef snorkeling, diving and with a searching eye for Manta Rays.

The conditions were ideal as our guests managed to dive with sharks and turtles on the first day, snorkel with at least 5 different Manta Rays and get to see some of their unique behaviours such as barrel rolling and surface feeding. We then snorkeled one of the crew’s favourite locations the North Reef Nursery, where a large marbled stingray being cleaned was the highlight….oh and a wobbegong shark!

Heading farther north we dived some old ‘Sail Ningaloo’ favourites including the ‘Playground’ and discovered some new sites including the “Lava Flow” (many thanks to Heather for thinking that one up), a really scenic site to a depth of 12m highlighted by cracks, small ravines, pinnacles and exciting coral formations…not too mention the green turtles and black tip and grey reef sharks we saw there.

A 5 day trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the “Clam Graveyard”. All be it a bit of a morbid name, given to it by the remnants of hundreds of old giant clamshells, this site is packed with life. Snorkeling in just 1m of water the group came across over 15 green turtles, 8 or more reef sharks, some really cool Hermit crabs, 2 different species of anemone fish, lionfish, sea stars and octopus. To cap off a fantastic day, we made a shore visit to Point Cloates to watch the sunset over the Ningaloo Reef and the Indian Ocean.

Nearing the North Reef area on the last evening of the tour we anchored in the shallow sandy lagoon waters watching a thunderstorm past the coast further off in the distance. Little did we know we would be in the centre of another storm the next morning!

Fortunately for us the storm we encountered was a frenzy of Manta Rays feeding at the surface. With the first sighting occurring just before 7am with a cup off coffee in hand by our guests Kara and Amanda as a Manta breached 200m away from the boat.

Mask, snorkel and fins were quickly acquired and before you know it was 11am and the group must have swum with over 20 different Manta Rays. Later observations by a local aircraft indicated up to 35 Manta Rays in the area but by the sounds of it we managed to be in the right place at the right time with the Manta Rays feeding closely together in the early morning enabling interactions with multiple manta rays at a time. The highest count we achieved was 8 Manta Rays all at once surrounding our guests as the Mantas feed on the plankton in the water. (Please note that Manta Rays are perfectly harmless with no stinging barb in their tail).

It was quite a climax to a fantastic trip as the keen snorkelers and divers reluctantly returned to Coral Bay that afternoon to head back to reality and leave the comforts of Shore Thing and the companionship of the crew.


20th March 2012 saw us head out for 5 days and 5 nights to explore the northern reaches of the Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay. Following an informative presentation on Manta Rays in the area, by local researcher Frazer McGregor on the first evening, the group were enthusiastic to set out to explore the reef snorkeling, diving and with a searching eye for Manta Rays.

The conditions were ideal as our guests managed to dive with sharks and turtles on the first day, snorkel with at least 5 different Manta Rays and get to see some of their unique behaviours such as barrel rolling and surface feeding. We then snorkeled one of the crew’s favourite locations the North Reef Nursery, where a large marbled stingray being cleaned was the highlight….oh and a wobbegong shark!

Heading farther north we dived some old ‘Sail Ningaloo’ favourites including the ‘Playground’ and discovered some new sites including the “Lava Flow” (many thanks to Heather for thinking that one up), a really scenic site to a depth of 12m highlighted by cracks, small ravines, pinnacles and exciting coral formations…not too mention the green turtles and black tip and grey reef sharks we saw there.

A 5 day trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the “Clam Graveyard”. All be it a bit of a morbid name, given to it by the remnants of hundreds of old giant clamshells, this site is packed with life. Snorkeling in just 1m of water the group came across over 15 green turtles, 8 or more reef sharks, some really cool Hermit crabs, 2 different species of anemone fish, lionfish, sea stars and octopus. To cap off a fantastic day, we made a shore visit to Point Cloates to watch the sunset over the Ningaloo Reef and the Indian Ocean.

Nearing the North Reef area on the last evening of the tour we anchored in the shallow sandy lagoon waters watching a thunderstorm past the coast further off in the distance. Little did we know we would be in the centre of another storm the next morning!

Fortunately for us the storm we encountered was a frenzy of Manta Rays feeding at the surface. With the first sighting occurring just before 7am with a cup off coffee in hand by our guests Kara and Amanda as a Manta breached 200m away from the boat.

Mask, snorkel and fins were quickly acquired and before you know it was 11am and the group must have swum with over 20 different Manta Rays. Later observations by a local aircraft indicated up to 35 Manta Rays in the area but by the sounds of it we managed to be in the right place at the right time with the Manta Rays feeding closely together in the early morning enabling interactions with multiple manta rays at a time. The highest count we achieved was 8 Manta Rays all at once surrounding our guests as the Mantas feed on the plankton in the water. (Please note that Manta Rays are perfectly harmless with no stinging barb in their tail).

It was quite a climax to a fantastic trip as the keen snorkelers and divers reluctantly returned to Coral Bay that afternoon to head back to reality and leave the comforts of Shore Thing and the companionship of the crew.

Locations visited

Ningaloo Reef

Wildlife

Bony Fish 2 species
Convict Surgeonfish (Acanthurus triostegus) 400 These guys are everywhere!
Bicolour Parrotfish (Cetoscarus bicolor) 400 So many different species of parrotfish
Sharks and Rays 5 species
Manta Ray, Devil Ray (Manta birostris) 30 Different feeding behaviour; surface feeding, barrel rolling, bottom feeding
Black-tip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) 6 great look whilst diving and snorkelling
Grey Reef Shark, Graceful Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides) 6 enquisitive whilst diving - one dive 2 followed us the whole way, keeping a distance
Stingrays (Dasyatidae) 6 Plenty of blue spotted lagoon rays and a couple of larger ray species as well
Western Wobbegong (Orectolobus hutchinsi) 1 so well camouflaged!
Marine Reptiles 1 species
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) 40 Viewed from the boat as well as during snorkels and dives

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Written by

Lannie


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