|The dolphins of Monkey Mia|
We continued down the road, another 100 KM to the tiny village of Denham. A motel, a marina, a supermarket, a gas station and then a lovely caravan park. Got a spot overlooking the ocean from a bluff. But we soon discovered they still had an ocean front site because the wind howls through here at 50 knots an hour... Can’t step outside without being blown out of your pants. I don’t need a hair dryer - just step outside and it’s blown dry in a minute. The showers here are salt water... so how can I rinse off after an ocean swim?
The first recorded arrival of white men on Australian soil, was right here. A Dutch man. A Dutch trading ship, under the command of Captain Dirk Hartog arrived here on October 25, 1616 - more than 150 years before Captain Cook. Hartog left a pewter plate, nailed to a post. The original plate is now back in the Rijksmuseum, but there’s a replica of it here.
Today we drove the short 25 KM to Monkey Mia. I had talked to many people who had visited this resort where wild dolphins come to interact with people. Everyone had said that it used to be really fun, but that now it is very touristy and regulated. But still. When wild dolphins come to the shore, I wanted to experience that. I did not have high expectations. I also suspected it to be commercialized.
BUT it was fun! It’s done in a lovely manner. You do have to pay $8.50 a person entrance fee, but that is often the case at wildlife or nature reserves. The rangers gave a informative talk and the bottlenose dolphins arrived around 8 AM. No one makes them show up, they truly do live free in the ocean. Of course they have been conditioned, know that there is a treat waiting by the shore. But I do believe the regulations are in the dolphins best interest. If they did not strictly enforce rules, people would feed them bread, or worse. They would touch them and affect them with sunscreen or bacteria.
Now, we all had a long, good look at the six wild dolphins that came to shore. They almost beached themselves and showed off. One mother brought a small calf. It was lovely. A few people were allowed to feed a fish to them and then it was over. The dolphins come back as they please but are only fed in the morning, and only up to five females, bringing males and other friends along.
|Bottlenose dolphin coming in to socialize.|
Turns out that Monkey Mia is part of a much larger preserve, a UNESCO World Heritage area including Shark Bay, Shell Beach, Hamelin Pool and a few other special areas that deserve preservation for future generations.
Check out www.sharkbay.org for details.