Marina was traveling in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. In Monkey Mia she worked as a volunteer for the Shark Bay Reserve, where she got the opportunity to feed dolphins. Here is her story on this wonderful spot, with these fantastic animals!
Working with dolphins: My lifelong dream
Before coming to Australia, I had already heard about Shark Bay. Since I was a child, dolphins have fascinated me. I’ve read dozens of books about the sly sea creatures. One of them was about a scientist watching the social behaviour of dolphins in Monkey Mia. So I decided to go to Monkey Mia one day. And it happened. Two months before flying to Australia, I emailed the Shark Bay Reserve and asked if I could volunteer there. I received the answer not long after. My friend Benjamin, with whom I was planning a road trip along the west coast, didn’t really feel like it – but then came along anyway.
The Shark Bay Reserve is located on the west coast of Australia in Monkey Mika. It should definitely be on the must-see list of every backpacker traveling the west coast.
My daily tasks
One day prior to starting the job, we had to go in for an introduction, which lasted about an hour. One of the staff members explained to us the tasks we had to do in the morning. Work was from 7:30 to 12 o’clock.
We were four volunteers altogether. We opened the office, did a bit of cleaning, opened the beach, and answered tourists’ questions.
One of my favourite jobs was to assist permanent employees with the so-called “Dolphin Experience”. This included preparing food and feeding fish to the dolphins that came to the beach.
Feeding the dolphins
When the dolphins arrived at the beach, we had 25 minutes to prepare the fish. The amount of fish had to be weighed for each dolphin individually.
Then the feeding started. The permanent workers told tourists the story about Monkey Mia – while we chose people to feed the dolphins. We repeated this procedure three times in the morning. The feeding stopped at 12 o’clock.
It all started when a fisherman fed dolphins with fish leftovers. It is important to mention that the feeding is controlled and dolphins receive only 10 per cent of their daily intake from the reserve. They can move freely and listen to their natural instincts.
Fun Fact: When pelicans approached the feeding, we fed them with fish so they would not disturb the dolphins.
After feeding we entered all data in a list: The number of dolphins spotted, the time, their condition, etc.
At the end, we showed tourists a short video and looked at the boats in the marina, from where we could observe dolphins with binoculars.
Benefits of working with dolphins
Apart from fulfilling my lifelong dream, there were no financial benefits. But that didn’t bother me. The work was voluntary and I had a lot of fun. There was an affordable campsite next to the Shark Bay Reserve: Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. The entrance to the Shark Bay Reserve was obviously free. Usually you pay AUD 8.50 per day, or AUD 13 for 2 days. Volunteers also get tea, coffee, and sweet treats.
Working with dolphins was a great experience. Unfortunately I could not stay longer than 15 days (that was the maximum for volunteers). But I enjoyed every day. Even Benjamin did, who at first did not feel like coming …
I strongly recommend the volunteer work to everyone. Here are a few links: