Although most famed as a whale sharks feeding ground during March to June, the reef is also rich in coral and other marine life. During the winter months the reef is part of the migratory routes for dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and humpback whales.
Also, the beaches of the reef are an important breeding ground of the loggerhead turtles, green turtles and hawksbill turtles. They also depend on the reef for nesting and food. The Ningaloo supports an abundance of fish (500 species), corals (300 species), molluscs (600 species) and many other marine invertebrate. The reef is less than half a kilometre offshore in some areas, such as Coral Bay.