Monkey Mia

History of the Monkey Mia Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins have been visiting the beach at Monkey Mia for more than 40 years. In the 1960s, fishers returning to Monkey Mia began sharing their catch with some local dolphins. Over the years, the dolphins’ trust grew and several more were fed at the jetty and later the beach. As increasing numbers of visitors came to see the dolphins, news of the phenomenon spread. Monkey Mia is now home to one of Australia’s most famous wildlife encounters.

Dolphin feeding in 1967
Dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia in 1967
Monkey Mia visitor centre

Wild animals

The Monkey Mia dolphins are wild, native animals that come to the beach of their own free will to interact with humans. Five adult dolphins accept fish from people, their calves often accompanying them. The habit has been passed from mother to young, so that the beach visitors now span three generations. The beach visitors belong to a much larger local group of dolphins that live further out in Shark Bay. Go meet the dolphins!

Caring for the dolphins

Research into the Monkey Mia dolphins began in 1982, and they have been continuously studied since 1984. As understanding of the animals has increased, the human-dolphin interaction has changed to improve the dolphins’ health and wellbeing. Learn more about dolphin management here.

The dolphins’ welfare also improved with the construction of improved visitor facilities in the mid-1980s. Then in 1988 the Monkey Mia Reserve was created to protect the area’s environmental and recreational values. Further protection came in 1990, when the waters adjoining Monkey Mia were declared a Marine Park.

In 2001 the Monkey Mia Visitor Centre was opened to interpret the life of dolphins and other marine species, and inform visitors about their conservation management. Find out about all the other fun and interesting things you can do at Monkey Mia here!