On the last day, we went back to Monkey Mia to go on a catamaran, the Aristocat 2, which sails out into Shark Bay in search of dolphins, turtles, dugongs and black pearls. It was a beautiful day, in contrast to the day before – we really do have the best luck!
The boat sails early, so we got there in plenty of time and had a breakfast coffee at the Monkey Mia restaurant. Jay and Piper are both travel sick, so they were both dosed up with Kwells, but the sea was millpond smooth so I figured they’d be ok. Everyone was sat on outside the boat and there was plenty of breeze too.
First up we went to the pearl farm, one of the biggest pearl farms in Western Australia. Shark Bay was originally popular for pearl farming in the mid 1800s to around 1900 – but the people were greedy and generally not very nice and the industry collapsed due to overfishing and the depression.
The Pearl farm is run by Jamie, who was on the TV series ‘The Farmer Wants A Wife’ – he was pretty cool and explained how they made the cultured pearls – its a long and complex and careful process – each shell produces 4 pearls over 8 years. Oh, and pearls and nothing to do with sand grains – natural pearls are caused by damage to the shell making organ thingy, apparently.
We sailed off in search of wildlife – there were lots of dolphins around – small pods mostly, but then a bigger one with a juvenile came over to investigate and swam with the boat for a while, which was very cool.
It was a gorgeous day so we pottered around a bit more in search of dugongs. Dugongs are funny things – they’re mammals that graze on the sea grass meadows in the shallow waters. Shark Bay has about 20% of the world’s population – something like 15000 of them live here, happily pottering about in the shallow water. They spend a fair bit of time sleeping, and like dolphins, send 1/2 their brain to sleep at a time, keeping one half awake to deal with breathing and keeping a watch out for sharks. They sleep just on the surface so we sailed slowly about to try to spot one. They’re very shy, so we kept on seeing tails pop out of the water and they swam back down out of harms way.
We eventually found one snoozing on the surface – very cool!
We sailed back to Monkey Mia and we sat up front in the sun, enjoying the warmth and the gorgeous blue sky and turquoise water.
In all, a beautiful day really and well worth it. We had some lunch before heading back to Denham.
On the way back, I took a some pictures of the Monkey Mia bay – its very beautiful set against the red rocks that dominate the landscape here.
Next up – the journey home – some last minute sightseeing and then the loooong drive back.