On Wednesday 31st January, I arrived in a beautiful part of the world known as Monkey Mia…it’s now Thursday 8th February and I’m still here. I’ve fallen completely in love with this place.
I thought I’d only be here for a couple of days but on my first day here I discovered the opportunity to volunteer at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience centre. The lack of volunteers (it’s the quietest month of the year now) meant I could start the very next day and I’m so glad I did!My hours are from 7:30am to 12 midday, so I still have plenty of time in the afternoon to go off and do other things here, it’s the perfect balance. Though it has to be said, the first two days I slept all afternoon AND still managed a full night’s sleep both nights. Turns out travelling is tiresome work!Volunteering involves recording dolphin data: which dolphins have come into shore at what time; how many fish they’re taking from us and the weight of those fish; what they’re up to behaviour-wise in the water. And the best bit of all, is the feeding! Each morning up to three times a day before midday, we run a ‘dolphin experience’ where the public are invited down to the shore, told a bit about the dolphins by one of the rangers, and then us volunteers bring the fish down and pick out random members of the crowd to come out and feed them a fish. We have 5 dolphins on the feeding programme and each of those is allowed no more than 10% of their daily requirement. This is to encourage them to forage for the rest of their food and carry on with normal dolphin behaviours. Nobody is allowed to touch the dolphins, not even the rangers, and there’s a law preventing people from swimming with 30m of them. If a dolphin approaches you in the water you’re asked to just remain still and let them do their thing. It’s a perfect way to get to see wild dolphins close up without effecting their natural lifestyles.When I was a child, dolphins were my favourite animals, mostly just cause they seemed cool. Now having got up close and personal with them, that view has been reinforced and I have a newfound appreciation for these beautiful beautiful animals!
I’m leaving Monkey tomorrow but I already know I’ll be back – I’ve even been asking around about jobs here..! Definitely got a new favourite place in the world.