I'm face to face with Ningaloo's living miracles and it feels holy | Tim Winton

It’s a very lucky person who swims with whales – but many take heart from knowing such ecosystems exist and believe they need to be protected

I pull the outboard out of gear and let the boat’s momentum wash away until we’re dead in the water. Then I switch everything off – engine, echo sounder, even the radio – and there’s silence. Not even the sound of water lapping against the hull. Because it’s breathless out here today. The surface of the gulf is silky. The sky is cloudless, a shade paler than the water. And behind us, onshore, the arid ridges and canyons of the Cape Range are mottled pink and blond in the morning light.

There’s only the two of us aboard, and although the air and water are still enough to be dreamlike we’re not at all relaxed. In fact, each of us is craning at opposite sides of the boat, heads cocked, tense with anticipation.

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