Whale shark tourism boom expected in Western Australia

Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef (photo by James Morgan)
Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef (photo by James Morgan)

Whale sharks have been sighted off Western Australia’s mid-north coast, marking the start of what is expected to be a bumper season for tourism operators offering trips to see the world’s biggest species of fish.

More than 19,300 people visited the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef in 2014 to get a close-up view of the whale sharks, which migrate to Western Australia between March and August each year to feed on plankton and krill.

Tours offering visitors the chance to swim and dive with the 18-metre-long beasts are becoming increasingly popular. And the Coral Coast’s CEO, David O’Malley, said he expects to see even more whale shark spotters in 2015, including a rise in international visitors.

“Due to the weakening of the Australian dollar, we’re anticipating an increase in overseas visitors signing up to whale shark tours in 2015,” O’Malley said. “Last year we had the largest number of tours ever to take place in the Coral Coast at 1,133, and a whale shark sighting success rating of 92%.”

The annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival will also return this year, from 21-24 May 2015.

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