The Ningaloo Marine Park confines Ningaloo Reef and its protected waters lie about 1200km north of Perth. The park stretches for 260km from Bundegi Reef at the tip of the Exmouth Gulf then around North-West Cape to Amherst Point, south of Coral Bay.
Ningaloo Reef is the only large reef in the world found so close to a continental land mass; about 100 metres offshore at its nearest point and less than seven kilometres at its furthest. The reef has been able to exist and develop due to the extra low rain fall and run off from the surrounding land mass. The Ningaloo Reef Marine Park covers more than 4000 square kilometres and was declared as a Marine Park in 1987. Its warm, clear waters are filled with life forms of all shapes, sizes and habitats.
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Soft Corals and Hard Corals
Over 200 species of soft and hard coral can be found, from cabbage corals, brain corals and lavender corals to delicate colourful branching corals, which form gardens in the shallow lagoons. Ningaloo Marine Park boasts an endless list of molluscs, crustaceans, algae and over 500 species of the most decorated and revered tropical fish in the world can be found including giant potato cod, sweetlip, spangled emperor and lionfish. Brightly patterned sea snakes, eels, starfish, clams, graceful manta rays, seals, sharks and many colonies of various species of turtles all make Ningaloo Reef their home.
A major visitor to the Ningaloo Reef is the largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark that frequents its waters mid-March to mid-May. Whale Sharks are filter-feeders that eat the small organisms that live in the warm, sunshine-saturated waters. Whale Sharks can grow 14 - 18m long and snorkellers can swim alongside these gentle giants that cruise and feed up near the surface of the water.
Whales cruise down the coast from June to October on the way to their southern breeding grounds. Above or below the water, Ningaloo Reef is an absolute wealth of interesting and beautiful marine life that instills a deep respect for the awesome beauty of this national treasure and its inhabitants.