Help the marine life survive and thrive in the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef wonderland

Recreational and commercial fishing, unregulated tourism, and plastic pollution have changed the quality and availability of food sources for marine predators throughout our oceans. Join us in the crystal waters of Ningaloo Reef to examine how these, and other pressures, are impacting the area’s food web.

On this expedition, you’ll be snorkelling the waters and working on small boats to identify locations where mantas and other large predators come to feed and be cleaned. You’ll be helping to collect samples of food sources, for example, plankton tows, that will help build our understanding of how the local resources are changing. With this knowledge, we can better protect this UNESCO World Heritage site, and determine if current Marine Protected Areas around Australia are effectively protecting the Ningaloo’s biodiversity.

Ningaloo Reef supports an abundance of life, with more than 570 fish species, 250 coral species and 600 mollusc species recorded so far, along with many marine invertebrates, and of course, the majestic manta rays. Its most famous inhabitants are the imposing whale sharks, which gather around the reef between March and August each year. And from August to October, thousands of humpback whales make a spectacular sight as they pass by Ningaloo during their annual migration. 

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Read the Earthwatch briefing document to find out more about the research, daily life in the field, accommodations and food, and travel planning and tips.



Coral Bay, Western Australia


$2650 | $2850*

Includes accommodation, meals, transfers, insurance and research activities


8 days


31 October - 7 November 2020

22 - 29 May 2021*

16 - 23 October 2021*

Activity Level


Lead Scientist

Frazer McGregor, Murdoch University