It isn’t every day that you can interact with wild dolphins. Well, I guess it is if you are a ranger at Monkey Mia, a World Heritage Site in Western Australia.
Last month we spent a few days in Monkey Mia and it was even cooler than expected.
Each morning, the rangers lead three dolphin experiences. Each of the experiences allows visitors to learn more about the dolphins and ultimately interact with the dolphins. From 7:45 a.m. until noon they are legally allowed to feed five female dolphins. This is heavily regulated so the experiences don’t negatively impact the dolphins in any way.
We arrived at Monkey Mia at 7:20 a.m. after driving in from our campground in Denham. After covering ourselves in sunscreen, we were ready to check out the dolphins. At 7:45 we were allowed to access the beach as two of the rangers provided us with nearly 20 minutes of information about the dolphins and Monkey Mia. During this time, the rangers were not only educating us, but they were watching the dolphins. Once they saw the dolphins interacting with us, it was time for the next part of the experience; food.
Thirty years ago this experience provided 100% of the food the dolphins needed. However, they realized by providing all of the food, the dolphins became reliant on the rangers and didn’t hunt or build relationships with other dolphins like they should’ve and normally would’ve. So for the last 20+ years, the dolphin experiences at Monkey Mia provide only a small portion of the dolphins daily food intake, which is around 15 kilograms.
When the food was ready, five volunteers brought out five buckets, each labeled with a dolphins name and filled with the appropriate amount of fish for that specific dolphin. The volunteers then chose people from the beach to feed the dolphins.
Once the feeding was done, we walked off the beach as a signal to the dolphins that the feeding was over, and the dolphins swam away.
But dolphin feeding isn’t the only thing to do while you are in Monkey Mia. We also spent a few hours doing a beautiful hike around the reserve on the Wulyibidi Yaninyina Trail where we got to experience not only the incredible water, but also the land.
Another highlight during our time to Monkey Mia was the catamaran tour we took. Three hours on turquoise water looking for sea life is not a terrible way to spend a morning. We got to see a lot more sea life from the boat including dugongs, turtles, and more dolphins. The tour also stopped at a local pearl farm where we learned all about black pearls and the innovative things this specific farm is doing in the cultured pearl industry.