Day 86 – Ningaloo Reef Drift Loop snorkel at Turquoise Bay

Still no news on the Renault from the workshop so off we went for another day in the hire car at the Ningaloo Reef at Cape Range National Park. We stopped for a couple of emus crossing the road ahead of us and realised that they had two baby chicks in tow! Such hilariously uncoordinated little creatures and one of the parent emus was being very protective and concerned, whilst the other was not so fussed and would occasionally intervene but get a firm shoo-ing away from the other emu. Just your regular dysfunctional emu family.

Emu crossing

Emu crossing

Emu family outside of Exmouth

Emu family outside of Exmouth

The beach at Turquoise Bay

The beach at Turquoise Bay

We made sure they’d safely left the roadside before continuing up to the Cape, where it was thankfully a lot less windy that it was yesterday, so we settled in at Turquoise Bay and made for the more challenging Drift Loop around the western side of the gap in the reef where the current was heading out to sea.

Snorkel!

Snorkel!

The Drift Loop side of the point had very different coral and fish from the Bay Loop yesterday – much bigger, brighter and more variation, which was awesome. There was some beautiful bright purple spiny coral and a big brain shaped one and a fascinating 1 metre clam with bright blue and purple fleshy bits. We also came across these weird long snake-like fish with weirdly long noses that would just float mid-current and look nervously around with their big goggly eyes until you got to close and they’d shoot off in the opposite direction.

Big blue clam

Big blue clam

Lovely coral

Lovely coral

On our way back in to warm up Smash spotted a sting ray in the shallows with bright blue spots that made a valiant effort to bury itself under the sand when it noticed us watching him, so we left him to his own devices and warmed up in the sun. Everyone around us was getting excited about seeing sharks and turtles further along the loop so we psyched ourselves up for the cold again and jumped back in to try find them. We swam out a lot further into the deeper sections of the reef and the fish got bigger and larger in numbers! We chased a huge rainbow coloured parrot fish for a while and found lots more snake-like fish and swam through a huge school of about 30 large silver fish moving in unison with the current. We were heading back to shore when Smash spotted a reef shark tucked away under a big section of coral, about 4 metres long from nose to tail. His tail looked like a classic shark shape which was unsettling, but when you swam around to his front end his face was so derpy and snub nosed it made him a lot less frightening! He was content to just sit in his coral and feed, watching us with his big googly eyes on either side of his flat head, while we moved around checking him out. No turtles though, so we left him be and warmed up on the sand again.

Crazy tropical fish!

Crazy tropical fish!

We’d had our fill of salt and sun and sand and snorkelling so we got in the car heading back to Exmouth via the big dune we stopped at yesterday to watch a kite surfer tackle the wind and waves in front of us. We spotted what must have been a dugong swimming around in the reef as well, but it disappeared before we could try get another look.

Back at the dunes again

Back at the dunes again

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

Kite surfer tearing it up in the wind

Kite surfer tearing it up in the wind

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Leaving our mark

Leaving our mark

Smash admiring her handiwork

Smash admiring her handiwork

By the time we’d made it back to Exmouth the Renault was fixed and ready to be picked up, so we grabbed that and drove both cars back to the caravan park to rest and relax before finally being able to continue our adventures away from Exmouth tomorrow morning!

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