Monkey Mia, located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, attracts tourists from all over the place to what is considered one of the most incredible wildlife experiences in Western Australia: the daily visit of bottlenose dolphins to its shores.
The trip to Monkey Mia
So far this road trip has been marked by rocks. Beautiful rocks that’s true, but rocks nevertheless – the Pinnacles desert and its limestone formations; and the Shark Bay stromatolites, that are living organisms. Today we were going to watch the dolphins that visit daily the shores of Monkey Mia for a feeding session.
After having spent the night in Denham, the day did not start on the best of terms. Halfway through to Monkey Mia I realize I had forgotten my camera at the hotel. One would have thought I had learned not to forget cameras behind from my diving trip to Pulau Weh, in Sumatra, Indonesia. So alas, after ensuring the hotel kept it safe, I was heart sunk to have to restrict myself to my iPhone.
The Monkey Mia Reserve is located 150Km from Perth (10 hours drive), so you will probably want to stay overnight for the first feeding that happens quite early. You have a resort located in the Reserve and the close by Denham town provides plenty of lodging.
The dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia
There was a bit of a drizzle when we arrive for the first feeding. After a briefing by one of the reserve staff members, we hang around close to the water, waiting for the dolphins to show up. During this period, the staff keep providing information on the dolphins and their history. It seems the dolphins started showing up in the 60’s hanging out with friendly fishermen. The research on these dolphins began in the 80’s and ever since the facilities have been improved, and so has the protection of this species. In 1988, the Monkey Mia Reserve was created followed shortly with the declaration of its adjoining waters as Marine Park in 1990.
There are only three feedings per day to keep the dolphins wild and not to interfere with their natural behaviours. The first one is at around 7:45 am and is the most probable one. Once the first fin is spotted, visitors enter the water to wait for these friendly animals to come closer. No one is allowed to touch them, and while the staff introduce each one of them I saunter away. I’ve had plenty of contact with dolphins before, and the water is too cold for me to want to hang around.
The other Monkey Mia stars
Grabbing a cappuccino, I move around the beach and pier. Although the dolphins are the star in this place, I find the pelicans much more interesting. With a grumpy face, they just hang around, not being spooked by tourists trying to include them in their selfies.
Further, on an emu strolls calmly, ignoring all the excitement around it.
Monkey Mia would have been a great place to spend the rest of the day if only the weather were nice. Once the feeding finished, we just started on our way to Exmouth to try and cross a long-time item on my bucket list: swimming with the whale sharks in the Ningaloo Reef.