Why is it called Monkey Mia? Mia is the indigenous name for shelter and/or resting place. It is unknown exactly where the Monkey part comes from however there are a couple of stories as to why. There was a ship called the Monkey that came in search of the Zuytdorp shipwreck that was sunk off the coast of Edel land, this ship is thought to have docked in the bay of Monkey Mia around 1834.
Another story as to the origins of the name was derived from the fact that Monkey Mia was used by early pastoralists for loading and uploading sheep. The Macquarie Dictionary recorded that the term 'Monkey' is a colloquialism for 'Sheep'. So the area became known as Monkey Mia.
Monkey Mia Reserve
Monkey Mia is a twenty minute drive from the town of Denham. This marine reserve is governed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, although it is not listed as a National Park, entrance fees still apply- National Parks day entry passes purchased at other parks and extended period passes are not valid. No fee is payable for children 5 years and younger.
The reserve entrance fee pays for the care, management and research of the Monkey Mia dolphins. It is also used to provide visitor facilities, including interpretation and school holiday activities. Entrance passes can be purchased at the gate or through the Shark Bay Discovery & Visitor Centre prior to your visit.
The Dolphins of Monkey Mia
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.
The Dolphins at Monkey Mia 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 (7.45am) 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.
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.