Exmouth has one of the most developed Whale Shark Industries
in the WORLD! The NINGALOO REEF is the only place in Australia you can swim with WHALESHARKS! Whale Sharks are in Exmouth from April to July
About Whale Sharks…
Whalesharks are the largest fish in the ocean. A fully grown Whale Shark can reach up to 18m in length. Whale Sharks encountered on the Ningaloo Reef are most commonly between 4-12m long. A male Whale Shark is sexually mature at about 8.5m in length.
Whale Sharks can weigh up to 15 tonnes and have mouths over a metre wide. Yet they survive by filtering zooplankton such as copepods and krill through thousands of tiny teeth arranged in 300 rows located in their gills. These are known as gill rakers.
Whale Sharks are found in warm temperate seas between the latitudes 30 degrees north and 35 degrees south. The seasonal aggregation of Whale Sharks in the Ningaloo Marine Park is linked with an increase in the productivity of the ocean around the time of the mass coral spawning in March/April each year. Ningaloo Reef is one of the few places in the world where Whale Sharks appear regularly in numbers.
Very little is known about the breeding cycle and mating habits of Whale Sharks. Whale Sharks however do have internal fertilization and produce live young. Males can be distinguished by the presence of two claspers near the pelvic fin. These are absent on female sharks.
Whale Sharks are fish and obtain their oxygen by filtering sea water through their gills. They do not need to come to the surface to breathe. It is believed that they come to the surface to feed but their feeding habits and normal behaviour remain a mystery. At the first sign of danger Whale Sharks will dive for the bottom. They have been known to dive to depths of 700m.
Whale Sharks have 5 gill slits, 2 dorsal fins, an anal fin, a very wide mouth, small eyes and a spiracle, which is a round hole behind the eyes.. Whale Sharks are closely related to bottom-dwelling sharks such as the Wobbegong Shark, there scientific name is Rhincondon typus.
The skin on the back of the Whale Shark is about 7cm thick. It provides the Whale Shark with protection and it will always bank towards the swimmers when threatened to protect its relatively soft under belly. The pattern of lines and spots seen on a Whale Shark helps them to blend into their oceanic surroundings. These unique patterns can be used to identify individual sharks.
Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world’s oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates.
These whales are found near coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. Humpbacks migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator. Mothers and their young swim close together, often touching one another with their flippers with what appear to be gestures of affection. Females nurse their calves for almost a year, though it takes far longer than that for a humpback whale to reach full adulthood. Calves do not stop growing until they are ten years old.
Humpbacks are powerful swimmers, and they use their massive tail fin, called a fluke, to propel themselves through the water and sometimes completely out of it. These whales, like others, regularly leap from the water, landing with a tremendous splash. Scientists aren’t sure if this breaching behavior serves some purpose, such as cleaning pests from the whale’s skin, or whether whales simply do it for fun.
Size: Adult males measure 12.2-14.6 m
Adult females measure 13.7-15.2 m. They weigh 22,680-36,287 kg
Its flippers are very long, between 1/4 and 1/3 the length of its body, and have large knobs on the leading edge. The flukes (tail), which can be 15.5 m wide, is serrated and pointed at the tips
Shape: The head of a humpback whale is broad and rounded when viewed from above, but slim in profile
The body is not as streamlined as other rorquals, but is quite round, narrowing to a slender peduncle (tail stock). The top of the head and lower jaw have rounded, bump-like knobs, each containing at least one stiff hair. The purpose of these hairs is not known, though they may allow the whale to detect movement in nearby waters
There are between 20-50 ventral grooves which extend slightly beyond the navel
Color: The body is black on the dorsal (upper) side, and mottled black and white on the ventral (under) side. This color pattern extends to the flukes. When the humpback whale “sounds” (goes into a long or deep dive) it usually throws its flukes upward, exposing the black and white patterned underside. This pattern is distinctive to each whale. The flippers range from all white to all black dorsally, but are usually white ventrally. About 2/3 of the way back on the body is an irregularly shaped dorsal (top) fin.
Lifespan: Humpback whales have a life expectancy of 45-50 years
The Ningaloo Coast is recognised as one of the most important nesting grounds in the world for green and loggerhead turtles. Mature female turtles make their arduous journey from the sea and up the beaches to lay their clutches of eggs from roughly November to March. Six weeks after laying (roughly January to March), the hatchlings emerge and make their dash for the relative safety of the sea.
Visitors to the Ningaloo at this time of year are welcome to view these poignant natural events, however, it is imperative neither nesting females nor hatchlings are disturbed or interfered with. Non-invasive turtle viewing requires a detailed understanding of the nesting process and appropriate interaction behaviour, therefore, visitors are asked to follow a strict code of conduct for self-guided turtle viewing, or join a Department of Parks & Wildlife led, guided turtle viewing tour.
A copy of the Ningaloo Turtle Watchers’ Code of Conduct can be obtained from the Ningaloo Visitor Centre or Exmouth Department of Parks & Wildlife office on Nimitz Street, Exmouth. This should be viewed as essential reading for anyone viewing nesting turtles, and the code of conduct followed to the letter.
Emus, Emus and more Emus
These friendly natives are our very own welcoming committee to the area. It’s a regular occurrence to see them wandering the streets and walking through the Exmouth town centre. They are WILD, so please show them respect, give them the right of way and DO NOT FEED THEM. Please note that wildlife such as kangaroos are prolific around dawn and after dusk, so please drive carefully.
The Emu is the largest bird native to Australia and can reach up to 2m in height. Emus are a common sighting around Exmouth – often spotted strolling down the town streets during the hottest months. Additionally you might see them in the National Parks near by.
A very large bird with long legs, dark grey brown feet and long, thick plumage that appears shaggy and is mostly dark brown to grey-brown. The skin of the head and throat is blue!
After breeding, the male does most of the incubation, losing significant weight during this time as he does not eat. The eggs hatch after around eight weeks (late Winter/early Spring or August/September), and the young are nurtured by their fathers. The chicks reach full size after around six months, but can remain with their family until the next breeding season half a year later.
Emus can travel great distances and, if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/h. Emus use their strongly clawed feet as a defence mechanism. Their legs are among the strongest of any animal, allowing them to rip metal wire fences. Emus can live between 10 and 20 years in the wild. They can jump and kick to avoid dingos, but against eagles and hawks, they can only run and swerve.
Kangaroos are marsupials (pouched) belonging to the macropod (large foot) family.
There’s something about viewing kangaroos in the wild that is truly captivating. Whether it’s their awkward stances, their inquisitive looks, or the way in which they appear to effortlessly yet gracefully bound through the air, kangaroos are a constant source of fascination.
These native animals can be spotted at abundant locations throughout Australia. They are in abundance around Exmouth. You will find them laying under a tree during the heat of the day or grazing on grass at dawn or dusk. These are the best times to see them as it is when they are most active.
Most Grey Kangaroo joeys (babies) are born in spring, so by autumn they are 5 to 7 months old and starting to peek out of their mother’s pouch. They will live in the pouch for up to one year. Autumn viewing of joeys is particularly exciting, as the new babies discover the world outside, learn to hop, play and graze.