The beach at Maud’s Sanctuary looking south to the village at Coral Bay.
The ocean to the right is a shark nursery (no swimming!) while some of the beach is protected at some seasons to allow the turtles privacy to lay their eggs
The Ningaloo Reef is 300 km long – one quarter the length of the Great Barrier reef but it is the World’s longest fringing coral reef. It is entirely composed of hard corals which only grow in relatively shallow water, depending on light for photosynthesis. THese corals are more muted in colour that the soft ones, lacking the reds and oranges, being mainly greys, blues and greens with a few shades of yellow. While the entire area of Ningaloo Marine Park has restrictions, they do vary. The main beach allows snorkelling, the glass bottomed boat coral viewing and a daily fish feeding exhibition there is no fishing at all, or collection of shells or coral. The coral grows up to about two metres from the beach in some places. The coral, while not as colourful as on the Barrier Reef, swimming a couple of hundred metres out, while no deeper, there are many more shades of blue, green and yellow amongst to coral “gardens”.
At 3.30 everyday the fish are fed on the beach and a great school of spangled emperors arrive for a late lunch.
Fish up to 60 cm long swim between your legs and hassle each other for a feed
Five hundred metres south along the beach line fishing from the beach is allowed. Apparently the big fish know where the sign is and stay in safe waters. There a myriads of smaller fish, blues, greens yellows and striped, sometimes in bait schools of thousands
This lad was quite fearless in feeding his new friends but was careful to keep his fingers out of the water
It was as interesting to watch those gathered to see the fish fed as the creatures themselves
It’s not quite “Jaws” but this school of spangled emperors look like little girl is on the menu
The most frustrating thing about swimming amongst the coral in this wonderful place was the lack of an underwater digital camera. While I bought two disposable film cameras I know their quality is limited and I won’t get to see my results until Perth, or be able to share them on my blog. You will just have to take my word that this is an amazing and unforgettable experience.