The dolphins of Monkey Mia

Next we headed to Monkey Mia with the plan of swimming with dolphins after finding out what the current regulations were in this area and stayed at the Dolphin Resort. This was brand new and lovely for a caravan park, but we missed our tranquil camp on the beach from the night before .

Dolphin resort monkey mia

We knew about the “dolphin experience” where people with rangers in attendance, feed wild dolphins in the shallows, but were not too sure about it. Feeding wildlife is always a selfish human thing to do, as it never benefits the animals/birds etc. M

Then we learned a bit of background about the place. Dolphins started coming into the shallows here to be fed in around 1960 when a fisherman and his wife began feeding them and eventually gained their trust. This soon became the place to see dolphins and this feeding continued and it was found that the dolphins were dying at a much higher rate than those not fed. Mothers were not teaching their babies how to hunt and avoid predators etc. Finally someone woke up to this and now it is tightly controlled by Parks and Wildlife rangers who feed a select few known adults, a very small amount (less than 10% their daily needs) in a controlled manner. So basically Parks and Wildlife are keeping the public from doing something worse by doing something they know is not natural but also conducting dolphin research. The good news is that the fed dolphins are now living as long as those in the wild. M

first dolphin monkey mia
The evening we arrived we spot the first fin in the shallows

The dolphins at Monkey Mia are Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. They live up to 40yrs for the females (30males) and can swim 40km hr which thankfully, is faster than your average shark. They start to have young at around 10 yrs and are prey for sharks especially in the first year of life. They start life with nice smooth dorsal fins and then sharks take bites out of them, injuries from boats, fishing line etc gives them their identifying marked dorsal fins. M

jacks friend
Dolphins are identified by the bite marks and damage to their fins which they accumulate pretty quickly as they go about their lives which are 30-40yrs long. This one we recognised as Piccolo which was one of the two adult dolphins that came in to be fed.

piccolo and kiya dorsal fins

pelican and piccolo dolphin
Piccolo and a Pelican who probably doesn’t understand why only the dolphins are fed?
mothers and babies
Mothers and babies
ranger on the radio
The ranger talking to the crowd while Kiya, who is Piccolo’s sister approaches. The babies stay a bit further away.
dolphin experience
The crowd stands in ankle deep water
dolphin and ranger
The dolphins came right up and looked you in the eye.
dolphins boats and bird
There were 8 dolphins in the group that we saw. Only 2 of these were fed and there were many babies which is a good sign.

ready for a fish

dolphin feeding
Kiya gets her 5 small fish fed to her by a girl picked from the crowd.

lumpy head

is that a smile
Resting while waiting patiently.
dolphin eye ball
The smile is infectious.
Kiya
This is Steve in the water. Kiya and her baby swam right up to him a couple of metres away but the water was so dirty he could only see them from above. They then swam away.

The weather could not have been worse though. It was cool with temps in the low to mid 20’s with very cold gusty wind the whole time. The usually crystal clear water was very murky and cool. Visibility in the water was poor and not so good for snorkeling only seeing the length of your arm. Steve decided to brave the cold weather and after 45min of looking around had Kiya swim right towards him with a baby and then swim past. She didn’t find him so interesting without food, which I guess is how it should be. It was a wonderful visit but we will have to do it again it when it’s warmer! M

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