Dancing on the Ceiling with Whale Sharks

A soundtrack to your Whale Shark season featuring The Rolling Stones, Girls Aloud, Lionel Richie, Queen, Doris Day, Radiohead and many many more guilty pleasures!

Whaleshark swimming in Coral Bay
Whale Shark front on in Coral Bay Western Australia
Whale Shark in Coral Bay, Western Australia
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel
Whaleshark and humans swimming side by side with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel

When you book your whale shark encounter tour with Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel in Coral Bay, you expect it to be one of the best days of your life.  At least up there with the top three. The day you got married and/or the day you got divorced.

You invest considerable time, effort and sums of money into planning the activity. Probably it will involve a road trip up from Perth or even across the Australian continent on the Nullarbor that stretches about 1,100 kilometres from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia. Just like all good road trips, you’ll need a soundtrack.

For some, the expectation of swimming side by side with the ocean’s largest fish is the primary motivation for a visit to Coral Bay. The anticipation of the day is absolutely enormous and will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Ups and downs, twists and turns, moments of sheer joy and jubilation. Even dare we say it in dreaded disappointment as factors out of our control like weather and wildlife can determine your day.

As a pet project, I decided to compile a compilation of all the tracks I felt reflect the day when you will indeed swim with the largest fish and SHARK in the ocean. Often people ask how do you find the time. When you are swimming with the fishes every day you cannot help but hear the sweet sound of music to the tune of the Ningaloo that inspires everyday. So here we GO! 

Alarm bells are ringing and it’s early morning and you’ve been awake for ages. Your restless and cannot sleep. Your heart is racing from excitement and anticipation for the day to start.  Your ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones. “I was born in a cross-fire hurricane.  And I howled at the morning driving rain.” You swagger out of bed to the sounds of Mike Jagger pumped for what the day will bring and arrive at the dive shop before the shop is even open.

The day of reckoning has arrived. You have travelled across the desert for miles and miles past oversized vehicles and their signs.  “But I would walk 500 miles. And I would walk 500 more. Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles. To fall down at your door.” Track 2 has to be The Proclaimers and ‘I’m Guna Be’.

You may have been travelling solo or with partner, companion, lover, friend. The day will be shared with a number of like-minded people like yourself. And music always sounds better with you. Straight into track 3, so here is Stardust, the hit of the 90’s, ‘Music Sounds Better With You.’  “Ooh Baby. I feel right, the music sounds better with you. Love night, bring us back together. I feel so good.”

You are now all kitted out with snorkel gear ready to go. A short bus journey to the jetty where you’ll meet the rest of the crew and your vessel of adventure for the day.  It’s the first time you’ve seen the Ningaloo Reef. A moment you wish to cherish and savour.  No other tune is as smooth as Morcheeba and ‘The Sea’ for track 4,  “I left my soul there. Down by the sea. I lost control here.  Living free.”

By now you’ll have enjoyed a morning snorkel on the Ningaloo and swam amongst the fishes and corals that dwell in the nutrient rich waters of the reef.  Your spotter plane will be setting off and checking the body of water of the outer reef for the largest fish in the ocean.  Your whale shark deckie will take a moment to gather all and brief the guidelines for interaction and how best to swim with the whale shark. The interaction is on the terms of the wildlife and strictly adhere to a no touch or take policy. Right now we need to share a little sense of humour for track 5.  Inevitably, this invites the hit song ‘U Can’t Touch This’ by MC Hammer.  “Can’t touch this (oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh).  Can’t touch this (oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh).”

Another objective of the tour besides ensuring that you have one of the best days of your life, top three, is to educate you on all things whale shark. This is best exemplified by the thirst of knowledge from your crew and the educational materials on show whilst we are underway in our search. Whale Sharks are filter feeders and they feed on all the small things. Undoubtedly, for track 6 we propose the hit Blink 182 song ‘All the Small Things.’ It is for all the small things that the Whale Shark is found close to our areas of operation. The mass coral spawning that occurs in March and April attracts the animal-like plankton such as krill and copepods that swarm to feed on the spawn. The zooplankton drifts ever so slowly in the water column moving weakly enough for the filter-feeding whale shark to feast on.  And there you have it, all the small things attract the bigger things!  “Nah nah nah nah nah nah…All the small things.  True are truth brings. I’ll take one lift. Your ride best trip.”

Now you may know that a whale shark can dive deep. So deep that even the research satellite tags that record depths of up to 1500m cannot withstand the deeper depths that the whale sharks may go to. Their ability to travel to such great depths beyond the human mind surrounds the shark species in such mystery. With depth comes great pressure and the David Bowie classic hit ‘Under Pressure’ for track 7.  “Pressure pushing down on me. Pressure down on you, no man ask for.”

Perhaps too often, the Whale Shark gets confused for a Whale. Which is understandable when it has Whale in its name. Even Hollywood in ‘Finding Doris’ tried to dupe the public into believing a Whale Shark is a Whale. I guess the public’s view of sharks is bad business for HollyWood.  As a fish, a large one at that, they are not sociable in the same way as mammals and Whales. They are solitary fish, enjoying the solace and space. Sometimes we see many in the surrounding waters perhaps because of the large food source supplied in the body of water.  I often wonder if they know what it’s like to experience the emotion of loneliness or even if they can fathom such emotions. There is nothing like swimming along next to a Whale Shark with another 80’s classic band for a belter of a song. Track 8 we introduce the song ‘Here I Go Again’ by Whitesnake.  “An’ here I go again on my own. Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.”

The Whale Shark Encounter tour shows you a glimmer of what it must be like to be a Whale Shark. Fortunately, in Australian waters, they swim freely. We wish this to remain so. They are free to move across borders and boundaries for track 9.  “Free to be whatever.  Whatever I choose. And I’ll sing the blues if I want.”  The classic b-side track from Oasis in-between the debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ from 1996.

When you embark on this adventure you have to do so with an open mind. We are attempting to collaborate with natural wildlife. It is a privilege to search and be presented with a mere chance of interacting with the Whale Shark. We do not have a Sea World that secretly opens up their cages and a specific latitude and longitude at a preferable time. The Whale Shark does not understand the concept of time.  It is in fact blissfully ignorant of who you are and your FaceBook or Instagram account. We are unable to take requests for a Whale Shark rendezvous at a pre-determined time and place. With that in mind, it is imperative that we have ‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys for track 10. “I’m pickin’ up good vibrations.  She’s giving me excitations. I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Oom bop, bop good vibrations).”

We will do our utmost and work tirelessly to bring you the best chance for an interaction with mother nature. Often we do have to wait patiently. The good news is that you will no longer mind the long wait for your coffee anymore at Coral Bay’s delightful bakery. Good things come to those that wait. At this late hour in the afternoon, your probably feeling hard done by. You are half way there. The wildlife has been sighted but continually moves between the depths and shallows. No playlist that has the Stones cannot go without the Beatles. Track 11  ‘Don’t Let Me Down by the Beatles.’  “Don’t let me down, don’t let me down,’ undeniably portrays the mood.

You must stick with it and not give in. Need some additional motivation. Take a listen to dubstep pioneers Rudimental and ‘Not Giving In.’  Track 12  “Oh, not giving in. I’m not giving in. Not giving in. Woh, I’m not giving in.”

You’ve got to have Faith. And the classic song by George Michael. “Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta have faith. Because I gotta have faith faith.”  Faith in your decision to be in it to win it.  You can only win the lottery if you buy a ticket. Obviously, we do not condone gambling at all but you get the metaphor for track 13.

Whatever will be, will be.  ‘Que Sera Sera’ by Doris Day. “Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours, to see. Que Sera, Sera.”  Simply said for track 14.

The pilot has indicated to the skipper that the Whale Shark is actively staying close to the sea’s surface. The information is relayed to the deckie.  Instructions are communicated to all swimming participants to get ready. You’re on the step of the marlin board ready to go. The vessel enters the contact zone ahead of the whale shark along its projected trajectory. You hear the whistle to go. Take a breath. And jump…You take the leap of faith and ‘Jump’ by Girls Aloud for track 15. “I’ll take you down, I’ll take you down. Where no one’s ever gone before. And if you want more, if you want more. More, more. Then, Jump. For my love.”

Your Whale Shark deckhand extends their arm into the direction of the Whale Shark as it comes. You hear the familiar riff for track 16 ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’ by the Rolling Stones. “You better stop, here it comes, here it comes…You better stop, look around.  Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes. Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.” Though, perhaps not the place to have a nervous breakdown.

Right now the excitement and tension are tangible. You’re almost there.  Your feeling the pressure. ‘Pressure Point’ by The Zutons released in 2004 on the debut album ‘Who Killed…The Zutons.’ 

The next moment requires a certain band, a headline act, a band that has conquered time and remains timeless. Music that sounds like Radiohead or in fact Radiohead. The band rose to prominence with critically acclaimed albums ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’ but for this, we need a melody that conjures the beat and rhythm of the ocean. From ‘In Rainbows’  track 18 ‘Weird Fishes – Arpeggi.’  “In the deepest ocean. The bottom of the sea. Your eyes. They turn me. Why should I stay here? Why should I stay?  I’d be crazy not to follow.  Follow where you lead. Your eyes. They turn me. Turn me on to phantoms. I follow to the edge of the earth. And fall off.  Everybody leaves. If they get the chance. And this is my chance.”

Now if Whale Sharks listened to music, there is no doubt in my mind that they would spend their days listening to Sigur Ros. The Icelandic foursome released their studio album Takk in 2005 with hit song ‘Hoppipolla’ that may sound familiar to you from numerous award-winning nature documentaries. Perhaps no other song can possibly do justice to the sheer beauty of nature that you are witnessing. 

Have you ever wondered what the interaction would look like from the perspective of the Whale Shark. It’s as is human beings are dancing on their ceiling.  Probably the greatest song of the 80’s. “Oh, what a feeling. When we’re dancing on the ceiling. Oh, what a feeling. When we’re dancing on the ceiling. Come on!”  Dancing on the Ceiling’ is the third solo studio album by Lionel Richie, released on August 5, 1986. The crowd-pleasing song released in 1986 the year of my birth. The album was released to generally positive reviews and warm sales, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and selling 4 million copies. If you read this blog before you swim with a Whale Shark I guarantee that you’ll be humming along to this tune for track 20.

The froth levels are going through the roof. Thoth is an Australian slang term for being excited to the point that you are unable to contain yourself. Thoth levels have reached maximum load.

All you want to do is dance. “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas. ‘So come on, every guy, grab a girl.  Everywhere around the world. They’ll be dancing. They’re dancing in the street,’ for track 21.

The requests are flooding in. Track 22 emotions are high. ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson. “Your love, liftin’ me higher.  Than I’ve ever been lifted before. So keep it up, quench my desire. And I’ll be at your side forevermore.”

We’re all floating on cloud nine.  Float On by Modest Mouse. “Well, we’ll float on, good news is on the way. And we’ll all float on okay,” for track 23.

I genuinely thank you if you have managed to read all of this to this point. No playlist can we without at least one song by The Cure.  Probably the best band in the world to amplify nostalgia. After your whale shark encounter, you may return a robotic life as everyday robots on our phones you’ll find yourself longing for those sixty best minutes of your life. And you’ll probably be humming away to The Cure Close To Me as you never thought this experience could end. ‘Close to Me’ by The Cure.

Some songs that did not make the cut but deserve an afterthought.

As much as I think the 1993 classic from M People is appropriate to encourage a whale shark to rise to the surface, I do not wish to indulge the Whale Sharks of Ningaloo to such musical taste. They may never come back…Other titles such as Alive by Pearl Jam prove to be too glaringly obvious to promote how you will feel at the days conclusion. I have great respect for the Irish rock band U2 but can’t tolerate too much of Bono blaring out ‘It’s a Beautiful Day.’ The Only Way Is Up’ by Yazz, a popular beat from the 1988 dance electronic scene is far too teeny bob for my liking and our playlist today. The final countdown’ by Queen would be a bit too much.  You may ask how Girls Aloud managed to get in.  You may be right but its a guilty pleasure that cannot go without.

And finally, if you have battled the conditions and the wildlife of Ningaloo has not blessed you with their presence on this very day, well all get up to song and dance to the tune of Billy Ray Cyrus, ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ and choreograph a line dance that will surely put a smile on your face. “But don’t tell my heart my achy breaky heart. I just don’t think he’d understand.”

Full track listing:

  1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones
  2. Guna Be by The Proclaimers
  3. Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust
  4. The Sea by Morcheeba
  5. You Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer
  6. All The Small Things by Blink 182
  7. Under Pressure by David Bowie
  8. Here I Go by Whitesnake
  9. Whatever by Oasis
  10. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
  11. Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles
  12. Not Giving In by Rudimental
  13. Faith by George Michael
  14. Que Sera Sera by Doris Day
  15. Jump by Girls’ Aloud
  16. Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown by The Rolling Stones
  17. Pressure Point by The Zutons
  18. Weird Fishes – Arpeggi
  19. Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros
  20. Dancing on the Ceiling by Lionel Richie
  21. Dancing in the Street by Martha and The Vandellas
  22. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson
  23. Float On by Modest Mouse
  24. Close To Me by The Cure

If you have any requests, flick an email our way. Compile your Whale Shark Soundtrack and well seA you in March!

Thanks for reading!