West Coast Day 133 - Shark Bay

Wednesday, Dec 02, 1998 at 01:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

By 7am we were sitting by the water waiting for the dolphins to arrive. We learned that the dolphins come in whenever they want but are not always fed. They try not to encourage them to expect a fish fed on every visit and only offer fish between 8am - 1pm. Each day they allocate 1.5kg of fish per dolphin - just a snack! That's about 10% of their daily needs.

The dolphins visit more commonly in the early morning but today it seemed we would not be seeing them. Around 50 people had gathered by the water's edge by 8am and by 9am the boardwalk, grass and restaurant was full of expectant dolphin watchers. At 8.30am the ranger was becoming restless and offered to show visitors a video. The room was filled to capacity with dolphin lovers willing to escape the blustery early morning wind.

By 9am we were disappointed that the dolphins hadn't arrived and stood up to return to our campsite for breakfast. As soon as we turned our backs, the dolphins arrived. People were flocking to the water's edge and wading in ankle deep. For about ½ hour the ranger walked up and down the shoreline with one dolphin following close on his heels. He identified all the 5 visiting dolphins and explained why Puk was the only one who would be fed today.

It was 10am by the time we returned to our campsite to cook breakfast. Just as we were finishing, Rob and Dorothy arrived. Unfortunately, they had missed the dolphin visit but were keen to hang around and wait for them to return. The dolphins sometimes visit up to half-a-dozen times a day so it is common to see guests staring out to sea with binoculars for hours on end. The Adcocks stayed and waited for the dolphins to return but left for Kalbarri at 1pm and we went to watch another video in the information centre. We said a fond farewell to Rob, Dorothy, Jackson and David, having spent the last 5 weeks travelling together. They need to be in Esperance, south of Perth for Christmas and so they will be travelling faster than us. As for our plans for Christmas, we still don't know where we'll be! Christmas day this year will be just like any other day we've had on our trip so we don't really mind where we end up, although preferably by the seaside sucking on huge fresh prawns!

Two cruise operators take visitors out to the seagrass beds that grow about a km off the shore and spread for many hundreds of miles around the Shark Bay coast. Dugongs fed on this seagrass and are the main attraction on the cruises other than the dolphins, turtles, and rays. We chose to sail with "Shotover" a 60foot catamaran.

That afternoon we took advantage of their special offer of a free Sunset Cruise with every wildlife cruise and went sailing at 6pm until 7.30pm. David was one of the volunteers asked to help "crew" the boat (which was just a matter of hoisting the sails) and then we settled back to enjoy a glorious evening. We returned full of energy and cooked chicken tikka masala and rice for dinner.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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