Monday, 10 August 2009

Pat feeds the Dolphins at Monkey Mia

Australia Map Monkey Mia

On the way to see the Dolphins

Tropic of CapricornThe 582 kms of road from Exmouth to Shark Bay on the way to see the Dolphins of Monkey Mia take us past a few interesting places which deserve more time than we can spare them. We also cross the Tropic of Capricorn which marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs at the December solstice.

There is also a new road sign warning us to be careful of an animal, some

Bilby Sign

research revels that this is a Bilby – a shrew like animal that only comes out at night, hence we are unlikely to see one or be a danger to it. One event of major note for us is that during the night we get our first rain for 8 weeks and also find that the roof of the campervan has a small leak.

A pod of Dolphins have got into the habit of coming to the beach at Monkey Mia every morning for part of their daily food requirements and thus have become a major tourist attraction and there are few visitors to this area of Australia who do not go to see them. The dolphins which come are into their fourth generation and often all generations are on the beach.

A very popular camp site has been set up on the beach where the dolphins come and In order to protect them from tourists, the “interaction” (as it is now known) is managed jointly by the camp site and the state Wildlife Protection Agency.

Monkey Mia Resort

7.30 am sees us down on the beach edge as part of a line of about 200 people waiting to meet the dolphins. They choose to come (or not) and

Explainer and Dolphins

when they do, they are introduced to us by an explainer who gives quite a detailed explanation about them, their life, their history and how they are managed (and protected from tourists). The explainers can identify the dolphins individually and know whom their parents are, their life history, their peculiar behaviours etc. Up to 22 dolphins have been known to come to the beach, we saw about 12.

People are picked out at random from the beach edge and invited to come into the water to give a fish to a dolphin – managing it this way means that no dolphin gets more that 1/3rd of its daily food requirement from direct feeding and they have to hunt for the rest.

Pat's Dolphin

The explainer in front of us pointed to a lady in the crowd and said “would the lady with the beautiful dark eyes like to come and feed this dolphin

Dark Eyes come on down

and so Pat is one of three people chosen to go down into the water and feed this dolphin.

Was she excited? Decide for yourself

There are also a number of Pelicans who live near the beach.

Pelican in Air

“A curious bird is the Pelican, it beak can hold more than its belly can”

Pelican two


Although this is a major tourist attraction, it is surprisingly well managed and one does not feel processed. The scenery in the area is very beautiful

Shark Bay

and it is certainly a place where you can relax.

 Paul at Monkey Mia

In the evening, we went to a most interesting lecture on the relationship between the Tiger Shark and Dugongs and Green Turtles given by one of a group of graduate students carrying out marine research at the resort.

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