The Monkey Mia Experience
Shark Bay has always been a haven for marine life, but in the 1960s some dolphins developed a special relationship with local fishers and began visiting Monkey Mia beach. Learn the history of this rare human-dolphin interaction.
The dolphins in Shark Bay are Indian Ocean or Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). One of the world’s most popular mammals, the dolphins are renowned for their complex social behaviour and high intelligence. Some dolphins in Shark Bay even use tools when searching for food!
Some people think dolphins all look the same, but they are of course individuals. Researchers at Monkey Mia have identified each beach dolphin and traced their family tree, revealing three generations of beach visitors.
The Monkey Mia dolphin interaction is managed by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife. Our goal is to enhance the public’s experience of these delightful animals, while ensuring the welfare and conservation of the dolphin community.
What is the Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience?
The Monkey Mia dolphin experience is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia. Each morning for more than 50 years wild Indo Pacific Bottlenose dolphins have visited the shallows of Monkey Mia, in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. This rare and famous animal encounter is one of the world’s great wildlife experiences and attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Dolphins are fed under strict supervision of Department of Parks and Wildlife officers with feed amounts small so the dolphins continue to behave and hunt naturally and teach their young important survival skills.
Times for the dolphin experiences depend on, if, and when the dolphins visit the beach. Between 7:45am and 12 noon up to 4 mature female dolphins can be offered fish the first three times they visit. If the dolphins visit more than three times or after 12 noon they will not be fed. It is best to arrive early as dolphin experiences may finish well before noon. There are days when the dolphins choose not to visit the beach, however these days are rare -Monkey Mia has a 99% dolphin attendance rate!
Instructions for enjoying the Monkey Mia dolphin experience:
- Please meet the rangers on the boardwalk at the front of the visitor centre (near the steps to the beach) for a briefing at 7:45am.
- Remain on the boardwalk until the time of the dolphin experience, at which point rangers will invite you down onto the beach.
- If you are lucky enough to be picked to feed a dolphin please follow the ranger’s instructions and do not touch the dolphins.
Please help us look after the dolphins. Your assistance will help to ensure the dolphins maintain their natural behaviour and do not spend too much time in the shallow waters where they are unable to feed their calves. To avoid harming the Monkey Mia dolphins we ask you please do not touch or swim with them. It is illegal to approach a dolphin within 30meters. If a dolphin is to approach you please remain still and enjoy their company.
We hope this information assists in making your visit to Monkey Mia a memorable one and thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping to ensure the ongoing health of the Monkey Mia dolphins!
Will I get to feed a dolphin? Can I swim with them?