I went swimming with the great whale shark! It’s an awesome experience. A heady mixture of fear and excitement, which slowly gives way to wonder and a sense of union with the Ocean.
I ask myself: why have I waited so long to do this?
I am so delighted and excited to have made the trip to Ningaloo Reef, to have snorkeled for the first time in my life and seen such marvelous underwater creatures and singular coral formations, some, according to the local guides, occur only on this reef, such as the “bommies” coral formations that resemble earth mounts separated by deep canyons rich with tropical fish.
And then I actually snorkeled in the ocean and swum along the whale shark.
I had read all the literature about how these gentle giants go their own way and are no threat to humans, and had fresh in my mind the instructions, given to us by the supervisor, of the distances swimmers need to keep and the protocol to be observe around these magnificent creatures.
I could also feel the excitement of all on the boat, even the spotters and the guides were excited and eager to get into the water as soon as the signal was given that a whale shark had been spotted.
I went into the water with the second group; felt the depth of the Ocean, darker and deeper and much stronger than the water on the reef in the gulf, colder as well, but still as warm as the waters I remember having experienced in the Mediterranean Sea many years ago.
I became aware of feelings of fear and activated my memories of other times when I had overcome fear and brought to fruition successfully what I had committed to, the state I invoked was similar to the state of walking the fire.
When I actually took a sight of the whale shark I first thought I was looking at sand at the bottom of the sea, but when I realized it was the whale shark I was so surprised and amazed that I took a deep breath- through the nose- thus inhaling a lungful of salty water, of course.
Suddenly my state changed and for an instant I felt fear and helplessness. and an instinct to flap my arms and legs, feeling utterly out of place.
A young swimmer next to me- (who later revealed himself as being and expert white water rafter expert, no less!)- helped me calm down, re-adjust my mask and snorkel and, when I was ready he took me by the hand and we continued snorkeling and looking at the whale shark.
It was at this stage that I recovered my resourceful state, started enjoying breathing rhythmically through the mouth and the silence underwater: this moment of acceptance and surrender to the larger element, the ocean, brought about a feeling of communion and oneness.
Even then, I was aware that it was not courage, but acceptance and surrender which was delighting me and allowing me to stay calm in the ocean, and to appreciate the magnificent “show” The whale shark was moving fast, yet, I could see the details of its spots, its gills and the chunk missing on its tail: it seems to go on forever!
Later, I learned that this whale shark, we swum with for about ten minutes was a juvenile, around six meters long! Six meters, it looked as big as a tram, moving graciously and silently but quite fast past our group.
How do I feel?
I feel great, very happy to have given myself the chance to experience this adventure, and I feel very grateful to be able to add this exciting and affirming moment of communion with the elements to my most empowering memories.
For more information on the Ningaloo Reef google Ningaloo Reef W.A. you’ll find all that the area of Exmouth and Coral Bay has to offer including motels, safari trips. Dive with whale sharks etc.
I certainly recommend it.
Also google Whale Shark Research or ECOCEAN to view some fantastic photographs and read about the current projects to study this magnificent creature. Enjoy.
I will put up some photos on my web site, as soon as I can and the video taken on the day by the resident photographer. www.excellenceinlife.com.au