A simple mask and snorkel are all you need to reveal underwater secrets. Fins make it easier to cover distance and manoeuvre, a shirt or rash vest (rashie) can provide protection from the sun and a light wetsuit helps you stay longer in cool water. Wherever it is safe to get in the water you can snorkel and explore the underwater world.
Marine parks protect some of the most unique, interesting and, in some cases, spectacular marine environments. There is always something to watch and enjoy from swaying seagrass, pulsating jellyfish and scuttling crabs to schools of fish and pods of dolphins to whale sharks, the biggest fish in the ocean.
Ningaloo Marine Park surrounds the biggest fringing reef in the world. You can swim right off a beautiful beach and even snorkel with turtles, manta rays, humpback whales or whale sharks. Tours are available and can be an absolute highlight of a visit to the area. Make sure you book your tour before you get there.
In some places, snorkel trails have been marked out to highlight local marine life. Find information about snorkel trails at Trails WA.
Much of the marine life that you enjoy when snorkelling is easily damaged and it is best not to touch at all. Coral is particularly vulnerable to damage because it is brittle and will recover very slowly. Coral is also sharp and cuts and scratches often become infected. Never try to hold on to coral with your hands and take care to avoid accidental contact with your arms, knees or fins. A good practice is to avoid snorkelling above coral in shallow water. Look from the side where you have more room to manoeuvre and if you must stand up, find an area of sandy seabed.
In marine nature reserves, marine park sanctuary zones and some special purpose zones, fishing and collecting of anything is not permitted. All marine wildlife is protected by legislation (check our corporate website for details) and if you are fishing, Fisheries regulations apply.
Strict rules apply to approaching or swimming with whale sharks and whales. If you're on a ‘swim with whale sharks’ or ‘swim with humpback whales’ tour, the operator has an obligation to ensure that you follow the code of conduct. If you're extremely lucky and come across a whale shark independently, it is your responsibility to follow the code of conduct. The only way you can swim with a humpback whale is to join a ‘swim with humpback whales’ tour. Otherwise, you can enjoy watching humpback whales from a private vessel according to the whale watching guidelines that include staying at least 100m from the whale for your own safety.
Some marine life is harmful, so don't touch and be careful where you stand. If your fins don't cover your whole foot, think about wearing bootees or reef shoes.
There are more than 100 species of sharks in Western Australian waters and you are unlikely to see any of them! Incidents are not common, especially close to shore, and involve very few species. It is unwise to enter the water if a shark has been sighted nearby and always follow any direction from police, fisheries officers or park rangers.
Visit Fisheries for more information on shark safety and research.