We stayed in Denham, within the World Heritage Site on the western side of Shark Bay but 29 km from Monkey Mia the site of the famous visiting Dolphins in the eastern facing half of the Bay. Reviews of the resort/caravan park at Monkey Mia were fairly negative in terms of value and service so we were happy to make the early drive for the dolphin feeding at 8 am.
A female dolphin and calf approach the beach.
Only the mature (15 yo) females get fed. Males and calves have to learn to fend for themselves but the calves still learn to “play” and interact with the visitors
The oldest dolphin, Nicki (35 yo) is a daughter of one of the original 3 females who learned to come to the beach for fish,
encouraged by a lady who stayed in the caravan park.
Of the thousands of dolphins in the bay, it is only the family of these three (currently 15 mature females) who have adopted this behaviour.
Dolphins are only fed 3 times each day, when they approach the beach, starting at 8 am. Only 5 dolphins are fed each visit, from their own bucket, supervised by their own volunteer, a carefully measured amount of fresh, local fish.
They are only given a small proportion of their daily food needs to encourage them to retain natural feeding and social behaviours
Dugongs and more Dolphins
In the afternoon we returned for an eco tour of the eastern bay in a large sailing catamaran, allowed to enter the sanctuary area where the dugongs feed on the marine grasses. Shark Bay has the largest amount of marine grass (underwater, flowering plants) and the worlds largest population of dugongs, very large marine herbivorous mammals.
Dugong and calf on the surface right in front of the boat sowing the whale shaped tail that caused them to be confused with mermaids.
Dolphins attracted to the boat sometimes play for a while around the boat before going back to fishing.
Our catamaran used its motor to cruise to the viewing area but then sailed slowly around to allow viewing of the wildlife.