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NINGALOO MARINE PARK INFORMATION & VALUES

The Ningaloo reef is a very magical place, exploding with different type’s of marine life and is over 260km’s long. 

The Ningaloo Reef stretches from North-West Reef at the tip of the cape, all the way down to Red Bluff, which is just north of Carnarvon. 

The Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing reef in Australia and 
one of the largest reefs next to a continental 
land-mass in the world.

Both the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park were World Heritage listed by UNSECO in 2011. The main reasons for this are due to the diversity and uniqueness of the currents, flora and fauna in the area. 

Thanks to both tropical and temperate currents there are both temperate and tropical species living in this area. There are over 500 different species of fish, 200 different species of coral and over 600 different species of molluscs.

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If you think that is impressive there are also different types of turtle’s such as green sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles and leatherback turtles.

Also seen are dolphins such as the recently described Australian humpback dolphin, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins and even Orca’s at certain times of the year. 

Also you can find different types of ray such as Stingrays and Manta Rays. There are also dugongs that live in the sheltered waters of the lagoon. 

There are lots of different whale species that migrate through the Ningaloo Marine Park at certain times of the year such as Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Pilot whales and if you’re lucky enough you might even see a Blue Whale.  

Then there is the majestic Whale Sharks!

Little is known about the Whale sharks migratory patterns but we have got some idea why they come to Ningaloo at certain times of the year. 7-10 days after the first full moon in March there is a mass coral spawn on the Ningaloo reef and after the first full moon in April there is another minor coral spawn. 

This supports abundance of different types of plankton. Plankton is basically a size class of organism, anything that is very small and can’t swim against the current is classed as plankton. Plankton itself can be divided up into two main groups - phytoplankton (the tiny plants) and zooplankton (the tiny animals). Zooplankton are a big part of the Whale sharks diet and are believed to be the reason why they arrive at the Ningaloo Reef in such high numbers. 

The Whale sharks are generally found in the Ningaloo Marine Park from roughly mid-march to mid-august. The reason they remain at the Ningaloo Marine Park for roughly six months after the coral spawning is due to the unique currents surrounding the reef. From the South is a cold water current running North that is high in nutrients. From the North is a warm water current running South, which is low in nutrients. 

At this time of year these currents meet close to the Ningaloo reef and thanks to the deep canyons out the back of the reef creating turbulence these waters mix together. What you end up with is warm, nutrient rich water. 

Thanks to the lovely Exmouth sunshine lots of photosynthesis occurs, supporting blooms of phytoplankton. The Zooplankton then eat the phytoplankton, growing themselves into high populations. This attracts all of the migratory planktophores (plankton eating animals) such as manta-rays and the whale sharks.

 

Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Vision for the Ningaloo Marine Park
 

‘The marine flora and fauna, habitats, sediment, and water quality of the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Muiron Islands Marine Management Area will be in the same or better condition in 2015 than in the year 2005 and the reserves’ cultural and Indigenous heritage values will be fully protected from adverse human impacts. The marine conservation reserves will be considered to be important ecological and social assets by the local, national and international community. ‘

Ocean Eco Adventure recognises and acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the land and sea.    

Aboriginal, or Indigenous Western Australians are descendants of generations that are known to have lived here for more than 45,000 years. 

There is no single Aboriginal culture. 

Aboriginal cultures are numerous and diverse, made up of different language and kinship groups, beliefs, practices and traditions. 

Common to the various cultures is a connection to 'country'. 

Not country in the sense of a sovereign or nation state, or of non-urban land ('town' and 'country'), but a more complex concept encompassing culture, environment, heritage and spirituality. 

Custodianship and the obligation to protect country is an important responsibility in Aboriginal Australian cultures.

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