Another early (6:30AM) start today, which was even harder than yesterday’s early start. We booked ourselves onto a whale shark tour yesterday, so we had to be at Exmouth Dive Centre before 7:30AM – it sounds easy, but we’re totally in holiday mode and it was touch-and-go. I shouldn’t be making excuses, but it was also harder because it was actually really cloudy, windy and rather dismal looking this morning (the radar actually showed that there was rain on the eastern horizon, too, which is the first rain since Uluru all those weeks ago)

20130809_RCH_0597 20130809_RCH_0600 20130809_RCH_0598This tour was much larger than the dive tour we did yesterday. Yesterday there were 8 people including us, today there were 20! Yesterday’s dive was off the eastern side of the peninsula, today we were in the wild, wild west. It was a 30-40 minute drive from their office to the boat ramp. From there we were ferried 7 at a time in the tender to their larger boat that was waiting in deeper waters. They spent time explaining how the dive with whale sharks would work – we were split into two groups of ten, and when they found a whale shark, they would drive just ahead of it, then give the orders to quickly jump in the water in front of it. We were reminded of today’s unofficial catch phrase, ‘whale sharks are wild animals’, which meant that they couldn’t be controlled and everything was going to be unpredictable.

DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPROTo test our whale shark entry procedure, we had a practise run that was combined with a snorkelling adventure. We saw more turtles (and this time I decided to dive down and chase it). It was pretty similar to what we’d seen yesterday – water was a similar clarity, with similar fish and corals.

20130809_RCH_0606 20130809_RCH_0612 20130809_RCH_0634 20130809_RCH_0649 20130809_RCH_0655 20130809_RCH_0656 20130809_RCH_0671We continued to follow the west coast south for quite some time. It felt like we encountered humpback whales every 15 minutes – some were boring, others were extroverted and slapped their fins on the water, breached, and poked their awesomely big tail out for us to see. They were close enough for us to experience ‘whale breath’, which I was lucky enough to only cop the faintest of whiffs of this pungent smell (if you haven’t smelt it before, it smells something like stagnant seawater crossed with old fish).

This kept us entertained for a while, but we were there to see (and swim with) whale sharks. They employ spotter planes that fly up and down the coast hunting (figuratively speaking) these giant fish. We’d had a few sightings, but by the time we’d arrived, they’d dived deep below the surface and weren’t to be seen. The tension was palpable. We were reminded for the fifth or sixth time of today’s motto, ‘whale sharks are wild animals’ and that they were trying their hardest to find one for us to swim with. It was obvious there was a little pressure on them to deliver.

We spent a good deal of time sitting around, circling in the area where one had been seen recently, but after nearly 45 minutes of waiting in vain, they gave in and fed us our lunch (cold meat buffet, with potato/pasta salad and bread rolls – simple, but more than sufficient).

It was now close to 2PM and we hadn’t had any success, so they started to slowly make their way north towards our start/finish location. The skipper suddenly stopped the boat and yelled something out to the crew members, who rapidly got ready to enter the water. We thought it was go time, but it turned out that it was a manta ray, that by the time we were ready to get into the water it had disappeared below. We all (all 20 of us) jumped into the water and swam around in vain trying to find that manta ray, but it wasn’t to be.

DCIM101GOPRO… and then, a humpback whale and its calf swam right past us! I was oblivious, but I heard excited shouting, so I stuck my head under water. It would have been less than 10m away from me. I fumbled with my GoPro and somehow only ended up with just the one dark/blurred/featureless photo… It all happened too quick – I saw a giant dark shape, and the distinctive white belly, and right beside it the much, much smaller and clearer shape of the baby. You’re not technically aloud to swim with the whales, but since it was unintentional it was OK (or something like that). We were told that we were incredibly lucky as it was a very, very rare thing to occur. It was cool, and we felt lucky, but it all happened so quickly that it almost didn’t feel like it really happened.

20130809_RCH_0679 20130809_RCH_0684We kept slowing moving back to the finish point, slowing every time a humpback whale was sighted (which was pretty frequent). The skipper suddenly slowed the boat again – this time it was a water snake, which is said to have THE most potent and deadly venom of any snake. …and then the dive crew jumped in to swim with it! Turns out that its fangs are at the rear of its mouth, so it’s considered unlikely for it to be able to bite you, but since we were on a boat a long, long way from a hospital, I thought it was a pretty crazy move. Even crazier that they picked it up and started to play with it!

20130809_RCH_0692We saw more whales, more turtles, some dolphins but no whale sharks. We heard that some orcas have arrived, which cause a lot of the sea life to leave – they’re basically the jerk redneck neighbours that no one wants to be around.

DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPRO DCIM101GOPROOne more quick snorkel just off the beach (very shallow) before the tour was finished. We saw some reef sharks, and giant starfish, as well as the usual fish/coral.

20130809_RCH_0695And that was it, we hopped back into the tender, got back into the tour bus and tried to stay awake on the transit back to Exmouth. We only swam three times, but for some reason the two of us are really, thoroughly exhausted. Exmouth Dive Centre have a ‘no sighting’ policy that you can join the next available tour, which isn’t until Sunday, but paying guests get preference, and if they have people purchasing tickets, we’ll have to wait a little longer. I’m in two minds about it – I’d really, really love to swim with some whale sharks, but at the same time, I’ve had a good time and we’ve seen some pretty awesome sea creatures and I’d like to start heading towards Perth.

20130809_RCH_0698So, because we were both so exhausted, cooking was too much of a chore (and since we’re paying so much for accommodation, take out was out of the question). Tonight was dinner in a can – Curry Beef and Potato for me, Irish Stew for Risa. A lot better than it has any right to be (for a $2 can of food).

88日目 8月 9日 (金)   うみは、ひろいな、おおきいな!!!

今朝は、6:30に起床。 朝ご飯を済ませ昨日のダイブショップへ出発!

今日のツアーは、ジンベイザメ(Whale Shark)と泳ぐツアーです。 あの、ちゅら海水族館にいるあの大きなアイドルです!!

日の出前の起床時は、低く雲がかかっていたので、もしや久々の曇り日?!こんな大切な日に! と思いきや、朝日が昇るとともに雲もどこかへ消え、今日もとってもよいお天気に恵まれました☆








GO! GO!Go! GO!!! と言われたら海に入り、ガイドさんがこっちだよーという方向に着いて行くらしい。




移動の間もあちこちにザトウクジラがいました♡ でかーーーい!!

ジンベイザメは、海面からは濃い青色と白い斑点模様がついていて、ちょうど海の色と、波の様子にそっくりで、なおかつ水面にいる時間が短いので とっても探すのが困難。






しかーーーーーし!! 奇跡が!




本来ならシロナガスクジラと遊泳は、許可されていないけど、私たちの場合は、偶然の遭遇なのでOK.  なんとラッキーな♡♡





でも性格は、おとなしくこちらから危害を加えなければ襲ってくることはないみたいだけど、ガイドさん達海に飛び込んでしかもそのヘビをつかんで、見せてくれました。(もちろん船上ではなく海でね。私たちは、来る?と呼ばれたけどもちろん船上でおとなしく待機してましたた! ヘビだもん!)



明日のツアーは、すでに満員なので、(1ツアー20名定員)、もし日曜日にツアーが決行されて空きがあれば、今回のツアーを予約した人から優先的に入れてもらえるとのことなので、、、、日曜日に行けるといいけど、、、もしムリだったら月曜かぁ。。。  キャンプ地も一晩$35なので、ちょっとキツいなぁ。


ちなみに初めて食べた缶のスープ。 私は、アイリッシュシチューを食べたんだけど、これが意外にお肉も野菜もちゃんとゴロゴロ入っていて、味もうまかった! $2でこれは、驚いたー。