Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coral Bay - 28th June 2009

Coral Bay isn't the nicest place. Arid and lacking much vegetation, the caravan parks and resorts are squished in together, being particularly crowded during the peak season. However, that is forgetting the one reason for Coral Bay's existence - the proximity of the Ningaloo Reef, which is close enough to snorkel to off the shore (we skipped this due to the unbeach-like weather) or easily accessed in minutes by dive boat.

We went on a double boat dive at Lottie's Lagoon and the Canyon, with a snorkel with manta rays in between. Whilst the coral wasn't as spectacular as I had been expecting, after comparisons saying Ningaloo was just as good as or better than the Great Barrier Reef (although the cloudy weather wouldn't have helped), Ningaloo definitely stands out for the array of large marine animals you can interact with. The most famous are the whale sharks, that visit between April and June each year. (We had just missed them at Coral Bay, although the season was still running further north at Exmouth.) However, the manta rays, are just as impressive. Literally "barrelling" a few metres below the surface of the water (a typical feeding pattern), these gentle giants put on a majestic display, whilst us snorkellers bobbed on the surface up above.

But that wasn't all we had to be satisfied with, as we spotted a dugong wallowing along the surface of the water during our boat trip. The cows of the sea (unusually, the only marine mammal that is vegetarian), they had already departed from the waters around Monkey Mia for the winter when we visited there, so it was incredible to get to see these unique creatures for the first time, too.

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