Just as well that I set an alarm for 6.00am because we think we would have slept in! The wind blew all night – typical coastal weather. We managed to leave Denham before 7.00 in order to get to Monkey Mia to see the early morning feed of the dolphins. (Word of advice – any of the 3 feeds of the morning would be just as good so the early rising was probably not worth it. Mind you, it depends whether the dolphins come to shore, but on the whole it would be unusual if a few did not turn up!)
Because of new regulations of animal welfare, only a few people are randomly chosen to offer 1 fish to 1 dolphin – Linda was lucky to be one although it is over in a split second. The first feed was a crush of people, and the next 2 feeds had a lot less people each time. It was lovely to see the dolphins so close though. There are 7 mothers with calves at the moment and now the ‘no-touching policy’ is in place, they have found that the survival rate of the babies has increased tremendously. There were quite a few dolphins swimming around all the time so it was nice seeing them. Once the wind picked up again they moved out from close to the shore.
At 10.30 we boarded a sailing catamaran for our trip around the bay.
There would have been around 50 or so on board (one family from Bunyip) and as we took off some of the dolphins followed the ship for a while. A medium sized greenback turtle swam in front of our boat which was good to see.
Our first stop was a working pearl farm. This was a very interesting venture. We moored right next to the pearl factory pontoon and boarded the pontoon. The owner of the pearl factory then spent quite some time explaining how his farm worked, how the pearls were seeded and the time and effort required to get the final result. This farm is the first in the world to be able to insert gold and opal into the shell and these come out embedded within a pearl outer shell. Absolutely amazing. He has also experimented with shapes other than oval or round and they have moulds (such as the shape of a dolphin) which are then made into special jewellery. We were able to walk around the pontoon and see the pearl factory side of it, plus look at a pearl shop which was on board. Many people bought something. They were very reasonably priced.
We then boarded our catamaran once more and headed out further into Shark Bay. Unfortunately we did not see any sharks (it ends up it was a species of a rather small shark which was in abundance at the time this Bay was explored which led to its name). However, we did see dugongs feeding on the special sea grass which grows abundantly here. This Bay is world heritage for all seven reasons an area can receive world listing, and one of the reasons is the population of dugongs. We could not get too close to them because of regulations, but were able to get an idea of their size when they came up for air. We would have seen over a dozen I reckon.
The captain of the catamaran thought he saw a whale so we headed further out on the bay, but we did not find it. The season for whales has not quite started.
It was 1.30 when we got back to shore and we were starving so went to the local resort restaurant (right on the beach) and bought our lunch. It was rather a large meal so we are having a light tea tonight.
After lunch we drove back part of the way to Denham and then drove out to an Aquarium which specialises in sharks. This was as good display with a very good guide who explained the various species of fish, sharks, rays etc. Feeding takes place every hour so we were able to see her feed each tank. There were not many people there so it was easy to ask questions and take photos.
We left there and drove to a place called Eagle Bluff which has a long walking platform right over the edge of the cliff. It overlooks the seagrass which the dugongs feed on, and we actually saw a large dugong (and calf) feeding. They are almost impossible to photograph so you will have to take my word for it. One lady there told us they had just seen a large turtle also. The wind was blowing a gale and clouds had come across the sun, so we did not stay long as we were starting to feel a little chilly.
We then drove to another viewing platform not far out of Denham just to have one more look at the ocean view. Before driving back to the Park we pulled in beside one of the 4 wind turbines which supplies 40% of the town’s power. There were good information boards on display and it was interesting to see just how well they are working in this area. With the way the wind blows on the coast here, it is a wonder they can’t supply power for the entire State!
We were glad to get back to the Van and get out of the wind. Early to bed tonight that is for sure. A long day, but a really interesting one.
Love to all, Janese and Ian