Just when you think that Shark Bay cannot get any better, Monkey Mia takes it up another level. Monkey Mia has been on my bucket list for a while, and sometimes when you want to go somewhere so much it can end up being disappointing, but this was definitely not the case. The dolphin feeding times start at 7.45am and they feed them 3 times before noon. But the dolphins determine these times, so they are not set. We decided to get there for the 7.45am feeding which meant we were up at 6am to get there on time as we are about 30km away. We got there early (I can anticipate the Camping Crews comments on this already haha).I like that although it is a tourist thing, they have tried to keep it as natural as they can for the dolphins. You get to observe them in their natural habitat and it did not have a fake ‘Seaworld’ type feeling. A few people are randomly selected to feed the Dolphins and luckily Col was one of them.
Although this was a fantastic experience and we both enjoyed it, it was not the highlight of the day. We had decided to hire a double kayak for four hours and paddle around Shark Bay, but it didn’t open until later, so we went for a coffee in the meantime. Not a bad view, you could still see the dolphins swimming along the shore as well.
Col getting friendly with the locals.
We then headed over to hire the kayak. Normally they tell you to hug the shore, as it can get quite windy across the bay and is 7 nautical miles (approx 13km) to cut across the bay to Rosie’s Point. If you are paddling out there and can’t make the distance, you would be in a bit of trouble. But as it was a calm day and we were surf life savers, they guy suggested we cut across the bay to Rosie’s Point to see all the sting-rays and then follow the shore on the way back to see the other sites. We were keen with this approach. He did warn us that there are a lot of Tiger Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks in the bay, some may be bigger than our kayak, but they don’t harass you so not to be scared. These words were of little comfort to me. He even suggested jumping in with them to snorkel. No, I don’t think so, won’t be happening. He said that there was a point in the middle of the bay where the fishermen drop their fishing offal and the Tiger Sharks like to hang out. Of course that is where Col wanted to go! I was quietly crapping myself, but off we paddled. Into the blue yonder with my eyes darting from left to right, seeking out any tiny movement.
I spotted some dolphins first, had a mini heart attack and thought they were sharks, but realised quickly that there were quite a few dolphins around the place. I did spot some shark fins off in the distance, but thankfully none came up close to our kayak, even with Col paddling madly towards the fins they would disappear below the water before we could get close enough for footage. Next I spot something ahead of us in the water but couldn’t work out what it was and nor could Col. As it got closer we realised it was a big Loggerhead Turtle but something was wrong. Col thought it was dead, but I could see that it was trying to move. Sadly we worked out what was wrong with it, something had bitten off both it’s front flippers (likely a Tiger Shark) and it was trying to swim with just two stumps and really struggling. It looked so sad and we were a bit distressed that it wanted help and there was nothing we could do. We got some video footage of it and reported it when we got back to shore. Apparently it is not uncommon that Tiger Sharks attack the Turtles and the Dolphins in the bay. Made me feel very nervous about the Tiger sharks though!!!! So on we paddled. (I am not selling this am I?! Hang in there).
We arrived at Rosie’s Point and the water was flat and clear and we were slowly paddling along when I saw a tail that was brown and white striped with three fins along it and a very strange shaped head. It was a type of stingray but nothing I had seen before and it was quite big. I alerted Col and we turned around but slowly realised there were so many stingrays below us. All different types and laying a bit on top of each other sun baking. It was incredible. We must have seen at least 30 or more rays and they ranged from massive to little babies. The strange looking ones, Col explained, were Shovelnosed Rays. We did manage to get some GoPro footage of these and Col is editing the video. It was so much clearer looking into the water than the underwater footage, but it will still give you an idea of what we saw.
We continued paddling along the shore and we saw huge schools of all different types of fish, Bluebone, Whiting, WA Bream, Garfish and many other varieties both large and small. Mullet were jumping out the water all around us and we also saw sea turtles swimming about. There were many small sharks and we would see the fins in the water, but could never get close enough to see what they were. They were quick. There was so much happening and so much to see that I didn’t know where to look. Col described it as the sea was ‘boiling’ with marine life and that was a great description.
There was also a baby shark sanctuary along the path we were paddling, but unfortunately there were some people fishing in this area and we paddled wide to go around them and I think as a result we missed this patch. Apparently you can stand in the shallow water and heaps of baby sharks swim around your feet. I don’t think I would have put my feet out, but I would have been keen to view them from the kayak.
Both Col and I were amazed at the marine life both the diversity as well as the abundance of it. This paddle turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip so far. We were paddling for about three hours, but we were both fine as we were in a double kayak. They give you a dry bag to put your things in and take with you. It cost $70 ($35ea for 4 hours) for the kayak plus $12ea for the Reserve entry into Monkey Mia. At the end of the day I felt like it was great value for money. Apparently April is a good time to go for the Rays, and if you can pick a day that is sunny and isn’t windy, the water is then clear and you can see so much more. It would be ideal if you were staying at the resort and could wander down and hire a kayak when the conditions are right.
For those of you that are still reading. We had seen a while ago a distressing article about Tiger Shark attacks on Dolphins at Monkey Mia and we were really surprised to find out that they had survived and were even there today. One of them that suffered the worst attack was called ‘Surprise’ and it is seriously surprising that Dolphins can miraculously heal themselves. The photo is distressing, but amazing that the dolphin survived and only has some scarring. You would never know the severity of the injury. We really couldn’t believe it was the same dolphin.
Here is a link to the article if you would like to read more.