All year round there is wildlife to enjoy in the marine park:
March – April:
Coral spawning is when coral releases eggs and sperm into the surrounding ocean. This occurs approximately 10 to 12 days after the full moon in both March and April and is a remarkable sight for divers and snorkelers.
April – July:
Whale sharks generally arrive just after the second coral spawning until the end of June or beginning of July. They congregate along Ningaloo Reef to feed on microscopic creatures known as zooplankton, offering a unique opportunity to snorkel with the world’s biggest fish, up to 18m long. The chance to snorkel with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime and visitors from all over the world head to Exmouth during the Whale shark season.
May – November:
Manta Rays migrate in huge schools and snorkellers and divers can use the opportunity to swim with these playful creatures.
July – November:
The humpback whales visiting Ningaloo Reef, are the fifth largest of the great whales and can weigh up to 40 tonnes. You can watch them roll around, slapping their tails and fins.
September to February:
Skeleton Beach in Coral Bay, is a known nursery area for the Reef Sharks. Annually around this time, large numbers of Black Tip Reef Sharks can be found inhabiting the shallow. White Tip and Grey Reef Sharks can also be sighted.
November – February:
There are three known species of turtles found along Ningaloo Reef; the Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill. These can be viewed in their natural underwater habitat along the length of the Ningaloo Reef.
From November to February each year the turtles nest on the beaches of the Ningaloo Marine Park providing a fantastic opportunity to witness this miracle. Watch turtles laying their eggs on the beaches in the evening, as well as the resulting hatchlings emerging from nests.
All year round:
With the continental shelf only kilometres offshore, fishing and the Ningaloo Reef go hand in hand. Despite fishing being prohibited in certain special conservation zones, there are still many opportunities for beach, reef and game fishing in the diverse environment of Ningaloo.
Land based fishing is a popular recreational pastime as there are many different species to be caught. Beach fishing often produces surprising reef species while fishing in Exmouth Gulf turns up a variety of estuarine species. Mud crabbing and squid fishing are also popular activities.
If reef or game fishing is your passion, then some of the fish you are likely to catch off the Exmouth coast include North West Snapper, Blue Bone, Coral Trout and Red Emperor. Ningaloo Reef is also recognised as the premier game fishing destination in Western Australia. It is one of the few places in the world where such famous species as Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sail Fish, Mahi Mahi, Spanish Mackerel and Sailfish are hooked regularly.
Ningaloo Reef is one of the world’s largest coral fringing reefs, with over 250 species of coral and over 500 species of fish. Fantastic coral formations, Whalesharks, manta rays, dolphins, humpback whales, marine turtles, nudibranchs, starfish and anemones are just some of the fascinating marine life inhabiting the waters of Ningaloo Marine Park, making it an impressive diving destination year round.
Unlike the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs off the north coast of Australia, Ningaloo Reef is not separated from the coast by a wide expanse of coastal water, thus making its accessibility one of its great attractions.
Any keen surfer has heard of Gnaraloo, Tombstones or Red Bluff on the Mid West coast. But venture a little further north and you'll find WA's best kept secret.
Another way to get further out to sea, and access sites rarely visited by snorkellers, is by sea kayak. Four-day tours from Exmouth take kayakers round the cape, camping each night near the shore. Day trips are also available.
If you prefer to keep your feet on dry ground then the Cape Range National Park is only a short drive away. The rugged national park covers 50,831 hectares and contains spectacular gorges, canyons, wildlife and wildflowers.
There are in excess of 90 camping bays in the national park, most of which are accessible by conventional vehicle.
The best way to experience the national park is to explore one of its many walking trails. You will be able to see many of its 630 species of flora and you are also likely to spot kangaroos, emus, lizards and if you’re lucky even a rare black-footed wallabies. Trips to Mandu Mandu Gorge, Yardie Creek, Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife are a must for all nature lovers.
Mangrove Bay is a bird haven which is great for bird watching as shore birds roost in the lagoon at high tide and during summer months migratory birds can be observed.
Visit one of the several lookout points and enjoy the unforgettable experience of watching the sun rise over the Exmouth Gulf or spectacularly set over the ocean sunsets leading into deep starry nights.