Feature park: Ningaloo Marine Park Celebrates 30 Years

A crab enjoying the beach at Ningaloo Marine Park. (Photo – L-A Shibish)

The home of Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, Ningaloo Marine Park, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Ningaloo Marine Park coordinator Peter Barnes said that within 15 minutes of jumping on a boat, visitors can encounter sea turtles, dugongs, manta rays, dolphins, killer whales and of course the wonderful whale sharks.

“The park also provides a crucial migration pathway, resting and calving area for one of the world’s largest populations of humpback whales,” Peter said.

Whale sharks feed in Ningaloo waters from March to July, making it one of only a few places in the world where tourists can swim alongside the majestic creatures.

“We’ve built on this with the exhilarating swimming with humpback whales trial, which is now in its second year,” Peter said.

Ningaloo became WA’s second marine park on 3 April 1987 and is now enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from across the world. The entire Ningaloo reef became protected in 2004 when the marine park was extended south to Red Bluff, while the wider Ningaloo coast was granted World Heritage status in 2011. The Ningaloo Commonwealth Marine Reserve, adjacent to Ningaloo Marine Park and part of the network of reserves making up the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area, will also celebrate 30 years on 7 May this year.