The Ningaloo Reef, found on Australia's Coral Coast in Western Australia, is currently home to a hive of aquatic activity with sightings of Orcas and Humpback Whales in addition to the world's largest fish, the Whale Shark.
Approximately 20,000 people visit the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef annually to get up close with Whale Sharks, the gentle giants of sea, who migrate to the reef between March and July each year to feed on phytoplankton.
However this week, tourists were delighted to witness the antics of a playful Orca, known to the locals as Augie. All eyes were firmly on this natural performer as he leaped out of the water six times, while his three female companions unsuccessfully hunted migrating humpback whales.
Whale Shark tour leader and ocean photographer/researcher, Leith Holtzman, has encountered Augie and his pod four times this whale shark season and notes that the same pod visits Ningaloo annually at this time of year, with other orcas often in tow.
Holtzman's earliest sighting of the group was in 2005, in line with the increasing Humpback whale population, noting it to be a positive sign that numbers are returning to pre-whaling levels of the 1950s.
Referring to the work of colleague John Totterdell of WA's Marine Information & Research Group, Hotzman said that “There are 19 to 21 individual orcas in a local visiting population on the Reef… just when you think you have seen appreciated everything the reef has to offer; you see something you've never seen before.“
The Ningaloo Reef is a permanent home to a wide range of marine life including manta rays, several types of dolphins, sharks and turtles, hundreds of fish specifies and coral formations in addition to the visiting whale sharks, orca and humpback populations.
Australia's Coral Coast chief executive officer, David O'Malley, notes that due to the weakening of the Australian dollar “we're anticipating an increase in domestic and international tourists in the coming years, keen to experience the magic of the Ningaloo Reef”.
For further information, itineraries or booking a trip to the Ningaloo Reef on Australia's Coral Coast, visit www.australiascoralcoast.com.