Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Monkey Mia

I've been lazy with my blogging for the past few days and at Mum's request decided it's time that I fill you in on what we've been up to. Actually, it's a lot easier when I keep on top of it, as when too much time has passed there's so much to catch up on that details that I had meant to share with you end up getting sacrificed for brevity's sake.

As I write this we're in Kalbarri where we've spent the last couple of days, but before I tell you about what we've been doing here, lets go back to where we left off in Denham.

On our last evening in Denham we ran into friends that we'd first met at the Pilgramunna campground at Cape Range National Park. Knowing about my Peewee attack in Exmouth, they mentioned that there was an article in the local paper about bird attacks in Exmouth.  Apparently it's a big problem at the moment!  We stopped to get the paper on the way out of town the following morning.  I don't have access to a scanner on the road, but I'll try to take a photo of the article and if it's readable I'll add it to the blog.

Monkey Mia is just a short drive across the peninsula from Denham so we arrived bright and early and were set up with plenty of time to have a look around before our sailing cruise on the catamaran "shotover".

We had a site at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, which although very nice sounds posher than it is, and was quite crowded due to our arrival during school holidays.  There's a day visitor's carpark for those who want to come onto the property for the dolphin feedings at the beach, or to eat in one of the restaurants, but basically the resort (and the waters around it of course) IS Monkey Mia.

After a look around and a quick lunch we set off for our cruise in search of Dugong.

The resort fades into the distance as we head off
The crew on the boat were fantastic, and very knowledgeable.  They had sunscreen on board and polarized sunglasses to help spot wildlife for those who needed them.  We saw huge turtles, dolphins,

and Dugong!  We were lucky in that we got to see the full face of several Dugong and watched in awe as they arched out of the water giving us a full view of their massive bodies.   Try as we might, we just couldn't manage to click the camera shutter in sync with their emergance from the water.  We ended up with a lot of "splash" photos and just a couple showing a small bit of their bodies near the top of the water.

Yep, that brown splotch is a Dugong

It was a wonderful cruise, but as we disembarked I was glad we had decided to wait for the following day to take our sunset cruise in spite of the predicted winds.  While others in our group spent the evening back on the catamaran we dined on a fabulous seafood platter at the resort's beachside restaurant.

The following morning we set off to the beach for the 7:30 dolphin feeding.  The pelicans got there before us

and the dolphins weren't far behind.

There would have been a couple of hundred people gathered for the feeding.  In the past there was more interaction with the dolphins, and more people got to have a chance to feed them.  Over time they found that the dolphins were dying as they became dependent on being fed and the calves weren't learning to find food for themselves.

Now the food is weighed out and only 1/3 of their dietary needs is provided each day. They are able to distinguish the dolphins by markings on their fins and only feed select adult dolphins.   There are several feedings over the course of each morning. We all waded into the water and watched as those selected fed the dolphins.  When the fish were all gone the rangers scooped up water into the empty fish buckets and tipped them over so that the dolphins would see that the buckets were empty.  As soon as they saw the empty buckets the dolphins were on their way back to sea.

While the dolphins were being fed a ranger distracted the pelicans with a bucket of fish so they wouldn't make a nuisance of themselves during the feeding.  Once the dolphins swam off our attention was soon drawn to the cheeky pelicans who were having a grand time playing with a water sprinkler.

and Mike thinks *I* have a big mouth!

An afternoon spent swimming and relaxing quickly whizzed by and it was soon time for our sunset cruise.  As we walked toward the jetty we noticed that the wind had really picked up but we weren't too concerned.

Mike enjoying the cruise
We were sailing with the wind and all was well.  Suddenly we turned into the wind and the boat took off!  We were going SO fast!  The catamaran rocked as we crashed through the waves showering us with spray.

The crew handed out raincoats - we were all getting soaked!

It was a wild ride! The crew scrambled to adjust the sails and keep us on course as the passengers screeched and laughed as we bounded forward. It was SO much fun!

Not the romantic sunset cruise I had envisioned though.

The following morning we set off for Kalbarri.

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