Monkey Mia 2013

Monkey Mia is a small tourist resort in World Heritage Shark Bay, 800 kilometres north of Perth. The main attraction is the opportunity to see a family of bottlenose dolphins that have been interacting daily with people since the 1960s.

We were comfortably ensconced aboard the 17 metre catamaran, Still Rockin.

It was July and the weather was kind. Temperatures in excess of 30 degrees and light breezes.

By the time we had opened up the boat, cleaned it, and finished necessary maintenance the sun was setting. The time of the year meant that sun dipped below the horizon over water.

Dolphins have been visiting Monkey Mia since before European settlement. Each morning since the 1980s tourists have flocked to the beach to see wild bottlenose dolphins swim to the shore to be hand fed.

The dolphin interaction at Monkey Mia is one of the most reliable meeting places in the world. It is one of the only places in the world where the dolphins come of their own accord, almost 365 days of the year. It is the only place in Australia where dolphins visit daily, not seasonally, and is one of the reasons researchers from across the world come to Monkey Mia to study dolphins.

 

We decided to sail up past Red Cliffs, around Herald Bluff and into Herald Bight, a distance of about 25 kilometres. After we had rested.

Nightfall was imminent so we stopped short of Herald Bluff.

Next morning we took the inflatable for a run along the shoreline, leaving Still Rockin at anchor.

It’s obvious why this section of coast is known as Red Cliffs. We had the place to ourselves, no people anywhere, no footprints on the beach, no flotsam or jetsam, no noise other than the birds calling and the waves gently lapping, nothing to interrupt the tranquility. A bit boring, actually!

We decided to head around to Herald Bight in the inflatable to do a bit of fishing in the creeks. We rounded the Bluff and headed towards a sand spit. There were hundreds of pelicans, shags and gulls on the spit.

We continued to our fishing spot among the mangroves. The mangroves in Shark Bay are the southernmost occurrence of the plant.

As we headed offshore we came across a loggerhead turtle. The loggerhead turtle is the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, and Western Australia is home to the two major breeding sites during turtle nesting season, one of them being in Shark Bay.

The fishing in the mangrove creeks was very unproductive and so we determined to head back to the Still Rockin. Along the way we came upon a fish feeding frenzy. A school of Giant Trevally had herded a large school of bait fish into shore and were feeding voraciously. The action attracted the attention of Silver Gulls who also feasted on the bait fish as they leapt into the air to escape the rampaging GTs.

After our successful fishing episode it was time to return to the Still Rockin and contemplate our next foray into the wilds of Shark Bay.

Text and Layout
Kim Epton
800 words
85 photographs

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