Australia, Part 35, Monkey Mia


We watched dugongs frolic from a special catamaran, the Shotover, a 60 foot “nature boat” with no deck cabin so no obstructed views.  Mostly solar and wind powered, the Shotover eliminated pollution and noise, two reasons why dugongs cavort so freely around it.  Another advantage to this specialty cruise that Ruth & I thoroughly enjoyed was that the Shotover sailed alone in a “Restricted-Access, Dugong Management Zone” that only it could enter once each day.   5-compass!

The  Shark Bay Dugongs have only one predator, the tiger shark, in an area containing almost 6,500 square feet of sea grass, 12 species of it.  No wonder they act like they’re in dugong heaven.  But then there are the unfortunate bottlenose dolphins.

In 1964 a woman named Alice Watts began feeding the local bottlenose dolphins and the practice, the main reason why so many flock to Monkey Mia Resort, continued.  Between 7:30 am and 1 pm each day dolphins swam toward shore where literally hundreds of tourists lined the beach to ooh and aah.  The Department of  Conservation and Land Management carefully monitored these feedings ,and only a small number of visitors were selected to help pass out a little bream or mullet, a carefully controlled 5% of the dolphins’ daily diet.

These are tough mammals.  About 1/3 of the calves already had shark bite scars.  The feeders when Ruth and I witnessed the dolphin show were mostly excited youngsters standing in line while a naturalist critiqued their every move.  She told the kids repeatedly to stand back now and not to touch the dolphins under any circumstances once they circled.  I later read a Monkey Mia Reserve brochure and learned that touching makes these dolphins aggressive, and agitated ones can bite.  They communicated via echolocation using clicks and whistles.  Tail slapping, teeth baring, and loud popping noises were signs of stress.  How was an excited child supposed to know the difference between a click and a pop?  Feeders were told to leave the water if stress occurs.  I also learned that pets were prohibited and didn’t want to know why.

As wary dolphins slowly approached, the atmosphere became even more circus-like, and I was both bored and repulsed.  The public address system was so poor that I could hear nothing and so could not even justify staying to learn.  I chose to go instead to Monkey Mia’s small marine museum,  It didn’t improve on a second viewing.  1-compass.

But we saw a strange beach and some prehistoric living rocks before heading back to Geraldton.




But then there was


About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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