Australian Marine Parks

Whale sharks are the stars at Ningaloo Marine Park, and taking a swim with them could be one of the most profound marine encounters you ever have. There’s far more to the marine park than these alluring, gentle giants, however.

Ningaloo Marine Park has deep undersea canyons, diverse colourful sponge gardens, and rich communities of fishes.

The marine park provides important biological and ecological links to Ningaloo Reef (the longest fringing barrier reef in Australia) from deep ocean waters and supplies essential nutrients to sustain reef life.

Tropical and temperate species meet here. The marine park is biologically important for:

  • dugongs
  • seabirds
  • turtles
  • whales.

This marine park and the neighbouring Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park are part of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, recognised for its outstanding universal heritage values.

The marine park stretches about 300 kilometres along the coast of the Cape Range Peninsular, between Gascoyne Marine Park and the Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park. It covers 2435 square kilometres, with depths from 30 metres to over 500 metres.

The marine park is mostly a Recreational Use Zone, with a small National Park Zone.


Spend a day saying ‘wow’ underwater on a whale shark trip from Exmouth or Coral Bay.

Knowledgeable local guides will introduce you to the code of conduct for swimming with whale sharks so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience without harming the animals.

Try your hand at recreational and game fishing in the Recreational Use Zone. The marine park supports large numbers of pelagic fish including trevally, tuna, mackerel, marlin and sailfish, many of which are found much closer to shore than in other parts of the world because of the very narrow continental shelf.

Parks Australia works closely with the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in managing Ningaloo Marine Park so that its environmental values are maintained and visitors can explore this special place.

Find out about visiting the Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park.


Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, but feed on some of the smallest prey.

Growing to over 12 metres and with a one metre wide mouth, these animals cruise along filtering plankton (tiny free-floating marine life such as fish larvae) from the water.

They gather around Ningaloo Marine Park each year in spring when the spawning coral and plankton blooms provide a rich source of food.

We’ve still got lots to learn about whale sharks, including:

  • exactly how long they live
  • where they travel throughout the year.

As each whale shark has a unique pattern of spots, researchers can identify individual animals and collect data on them over time.

Some whale shark tour companies are helping collect this data by photographing and recording each whale shark they see.

Click on the map below to see what you can do in the Ningaloo Marine Park.

Download map


Park area

2,435 km²

Depth range

30 to 500 m

Average depth

177 m