[the ocean photos are courtesy of Ningaloo Reef Dreaming]
Mom and I were not brave enough to go on this day adventure.
Nathan and Dad had booked this whale shark adventure a month in advance. It was the whole reason we took a 4-day trip to Ningaloo reef. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world and eat plankton, not juicy tourists.
They woke up Monday morning at 6 a.m. and made a ton of noise in the shower and kitchen, waking up the rest of us. A bus picked them up at the hotel’s reception and they drove to where the boat was waiting.
Nathan and Dad’s group were the only ones that didn’t cancel the trip due to the weather. Four other companies cancelled their tour because of the rough weather and drove their buses back to town.
There were 18 other eager whale shark enthusiasts with Nathan and Dad. After taking a little dip in the reef to confirm swimming abilities, they headed out a couple miles from shore.
Mom and I stayed in the hotel room that morning. The weather outside was getting stormier, the clouds blackened and the wind started howling.
Back on the boat, Nathan and Dad were getting the rundown on whale shark safety. They were asked to not get in front of the shark and stay away from the massive tail.
Nathan started feeling dizzy right before the practice snorkel when the boat stopped moving and was then influenced by the wonderful rolling waves. When in the water, he didn’t really improve much and felt like burping but due to the snorkel he was forced to hold it in, in hindsight he realizes this may have been the wrong decision.
Back on the boat the “weak stomach syndrome” spread among the group as the first few group members saw their breakfast again in partially digested form. Nathan was one of the first to get sea sick, followed closely by Dad; there was also a French couple that was in all sorts of trouble.
Several people were lined up at the back of the boat, hurling over the side. They were told not to go to the back unless they were actually going to get sick.
Nathan and Dad were sea sick and vomiting the whole time. Nathan felt the worst. He lost the yogurt he had for breakfast and began seeing yellow bile.
Nathan spent so much time at the back of the boat he slammed his knee against the side from all the rocking.
When they got the message from the circling plane above that a whale shark was spotted, the captain shouted, “Whale shark! Whale shark!” And everyone quickly ran to the back of the boat and quickly put on their gear (wet suit, snorkel and fins) in anticipation of jumping into the path of a giant fish.
Excited and weak from lack of food, they jumped off the boat into the deep water and tread water until the shark came into their path.
Nathan and Dad said it was magical and majestic, worth every hour of nausea. The shark has a wide mouth and a beautiful pattern of dots on its body. It glided through the water, aware of the floating humans nearby, yet calm.
The boat spotted four whale sharks that day. They are usually lucky to spot only two. Dad jumped in the water five times to see the sharks, but Nathan was getting extremely weak and sick and sat out the last two jumps.
Nathan is on the right, waving to signal that he saw the shark. He’s got the lime green snorkel piece.
They all rolled themselves onto the moving boat. The viewing had finished and they got dry and dressed, reflecting on the sharks. The company had included a delightful feast for the hungry swimmers, but not many were feeling up to eating. Notice their faces and how disgusted they are by the sight of the food.