Brisbane, QLD

Saturday, December 10, 2011


For many years I have wanted to see the dolphins at Monkey Mia in W.A. and I was looking forward to this moment very much.  The morning after we arrived at Monkey Mia we were told to be on the beach at 7:30 and we should see the dolphins come in to be fed. I arrived early and the rangers told us we had to sit on the boardwalk and wait until we saw them and then walk very slowly to the edge of the water so as not to frighten them. The rangers have strict rules now on the amount of contact allowed and for how long. This has not always been the case.

Forty years ago a fisherman and his wife started feeding the dolphins when returning with their catch. As the news spread many tourists started arriving. They would feed and pat the dolphins and swim with them but when the area became a marine park and a dolphin research location it was discovered that the dolphins were dying. Investigations found that because the mother dolphins were coming into the shallow water to be fed and stayed there for a long time the babies could not get under their mothers to suckle. It was also found that dolphins could catch human viruses and die.

So rules were made. No one is to touch the dolphins or swim with them. Feeding time is limited to 30 minutes and only the same five dolphins are fed. The rangers choose a few people from the crowd to feed the dolphins. Although I realised I probably wouldn't be feeding a dolphin I wasn't upset as I could take photos instead and I agreed with the rules so as to save these beautiful animals from getting sick. 

 We waited for what seemed ages for them to arrive. The rangers warned us that they may decide not to come today. That got me worried until she said they have only done that twice in the past. There were about 100 people gathered on the beach on a signal from the rangers we moved to the water's edge.

 At first there were only a couple and then more and more turned up. It was a big pod.

They swam back and forth and closer and closer. It was so exciting.

Then five of them left the pod and came in even closer when they saw the rangers with the buckets of fish.

 There were two rangers. They talked to the dolphins and had names for them. They told us how to tell their age by the number of speckly dots on their tummies.

 It was low tide and the water was a bit murky and hard for them to get in close. This one came to say hello and pose for me.

 This lucky guy was chosen to feed one.

It was lovely to see children interacting with the dolphins. Notice in the background the rest of the pod were frolicking, romancing and chasing fish. It was a great experience and all over too quickly but they come back at lunchtime and in the evenings.

 After lunch I went on a catamaran cruise to view dugongs these are big marine mammals similar to manatee and sometimes called a sea cow. They eat sea grass and are vulnerable to extinction. (I am second from left with pink shirt and blue hat)

Off we go. Photo by Bill who stayed on terra firma.

The wind got up and it was quite cold. Everyone had their eyes peeled looking for dugongs and turtles.

But all we saw was beautiful clear green water but not a dugong in sight. Anyway the cruise was fun.
So no whales in Albany and no dugongs here. That's wildlife for you. At least the dolphins came in.


  1. Oh Di, you've bought back some great memories. I just loved Monkey Mia. The experience of feeding the dolphins turned out to be a rather special treat for my family on our trip round Oz.

    Our eldest boy had broken his leg on the ski slopes during the trip and by the time we reached Monkey Mia his leg was still recovering. The cast was off but he was still using the crutches because his leg wasn't quite strong enough for full weight yet.

    Anyway, we all stood back from the water's edge when it was feeding time. Others moved into the water as the rangers instructed but two of the dolphins made a bee-line straight for Andrew. The ranger told him to make his way into the water, which he did and those two dolphins nudged Andrew's broken leg gently for quite a few minutes. It was an extraordingary thing. All the other dolphins waited while the pair were being so kind to our son and none of them came in to feed until the two dolphins left our son!!!!

    We don't know how they knew which had been the broken leg, but they definitely only touched that leg!!!

  2. it would have been a wonderful experience Diane. your photos are gorgeous as usual.

  3. What wonderful friendly animals and a real treat for the children -a truly beautiful area of Australia.

  4. I thought it would be an attractive young female who was chosen to feed the dolphins. You took great close ups and good to hear that the viewing is being done responsibly. I can't help but wonder why only twice in the past they have not turned up. Body corporate meeting to attend?

  5. Oh Diana what a wonderful experience with the dolphins. I didn't know you could visit them from the beach. I only heard of swimming with them. Nice they come so close to the beaches. Sorry about the dugongs, but you can't have it all apparently.

  6. Bernie: That is an amazing story. I have heard before of dolphins at Sea World helping or caressing for a better word children who are ill or disabled. They are very special animals.

  7. the dolphins are a wonderful sight to see. and i love that last water shot you took, so beautiful. a fun trip. about the dolphins, leave it to mankind to find a way to do harm to the wildlife. i have always beleive we should not feed anything wild.

  8. Dolphins are incredibly special and supremely intelligent beings. I can imagine the awe with which you gazed upon them. It's so good to know rules have been enforced to keep them safe.

  9. It is good to know that 'rules have been made and are followed' - I was under the impression that you could feed, touch and swim ( if you liked) with them. Now I can understand why not. Were you told what diseases the dolphins get from humans?????
    Just incredible how tranquil the waters in the bay are and also when you went out dugong seaching.
    Maybe dugongs don't like pink shirts??? I have been told that yellow is very attractive to them!!! ( That just might be a little teeny fibby - eh?)
    Cheers and well done
    Colin (HB)
    PS: Thank God today for the beach party is lovely and fine - see you in 3 hours time and NOT in yellow.

  10. There is something so thrilling about being close to sea creatures, especially when, like dolphins, they interact with us humans like they do.

    I was on a ferry one time between Seattle and Vancouver and a pod of killer whales (orcas) appeared along side, cavorting in the sea. It was amazing to watch.

  11. You've told me more about dolphins than I ever learned at Seaworld. I'm pleased to hear that tourists and dolphins are interacting in such a positive way, now. And isn't Bernie's story amazing [though not surprising]?
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. What a wonderful time for you, Diane.
    I also loved the comment about Bernie's son. Dolphins are such sweet animals.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  13. This must have been an amazing experience. I'm so glad that you were able to see and photograph the dolphins. It's too bad the dugongs didn't make an appearance, but it looks as if it was a great cruise anyway.

  14. Lucky you to have a chance to see the dolphins they are such amazing animals, the other day my husband rang to tell me that there were dolphins swimming in the lake down the road from us so I got in the car and drove down to the lake to see them and wow what a sight......I am glad he rang me.

  15. That final shot has an amazing green to it, Diane and the clouds are just sitting there like so much cotton-wool. I am always only to happy to let someone elde do the interactive bit, enabling me to take more photos. When I go along our coast for whale viewings, I am nearly always disappointed. It is only when the viewing is 'free' that I actually see anything.

  16. BTW, how did APT compare with Outback Spirit? Quality and price ...

  17. We had one GOOD and one VERY BAD experience with Outback Spirits. We'll tell you about it next time we'll see you, Julie. I for one will never go on another Outback Spirit Tour.

  18. Dinae, your visit to Monkey Mia sounds wonderful. I love seeing the dolphins, they looks so gentle. Your photos are great sorry you did not get to see dugong. Maybe another time. I enjoyed this post and the dolphins. Have a Happy Sunday!

  19. I've never much wanted to do whale watching or dolphin swimming but I certainly enjoyed your story.

  20. Lovely Diane,
    They are such graceful creatures like whales.

  21. LOve the dolphins. So is it always the same five? How does that work -- are they so peaceful that the others don't try to be one of those fed?
    We have lots of manatees here where live in the winter. Boaters used to feed them and give them fresh water (which they love) and they got so dependent on it that they would swim up to the boats and under them and many were killed accidentally. Now it is against the law to feed/water them. And there is also a strict speed limit in the shallower (warmer) waters. Some old ones that you see have scars from encounters with motors.

  22. I love dolphins in the wild. I once saw a pod of around 100 dolphins swimming next to our boat. We were on our way back from a trip to White Island in New Zealand and it was an unexpected and magic experience. Another time we saw dolphins and my boys went out to swim with them. I took photos until I realised I was missing out on an experience. I swam out too late.
    I have heard about Monkey Mia and I enjoyed the photos. It is also on my to do list. Thanks for sharing.

  23. What an amazing experience! It must have been so much fun to have the dolphins come so close and "pose" for photos. You pictures, as always, are lovely.
    I don't think I've ever seen such a green, green sea as in the last photo. Even without the dugongs showing up, just looking at the water that color would have been enough for me. Sorry the whales were absent, too, but as you say, at least you had dolphins.f

  24. When I was growing up "Flipper" was a show about a dolphin that I watched every week. I've been fond of them ever since. What fun to see them.
    That last shot is superb! the water is gorgeous as is the sky; and ogether it's a stunning landscape!

  25. What a wonderful experience this must have been, Diane I'm glad the new regulations are protecting the beautiful dolphins, yet still allowing such a wonderful encounter with them to photograph.

  26. That must be amazing to be so close to dolphins which are apparently so friendly !

  27. outstanding shots, each one of them, but the dolphin shots caught my eye.

    what adorable creatures and what a great adventure you've experienced.


  28. Oh Diane, you are so lucky to have seen those beautiful animals so close. I am glad they have established rules to protect these magnificent creatures. I love your shots of the ocean especially the last one with the green water and puffy clouds.

  29. Fabulous photos, Diane. I love dolphins --and they are so friendly... One of my sons was vacationing in the Bahamas on year and he got to swim with the dolphins and feed them... Awesome!!!!!


  30. I wish I would be there! I love the dolphins.