Shark Bay home to dolphins, dugongs, turtles, manta rays and stromatolites
Shark Bay was a chance for us to get out on the water again. A world marine heritage area of low lying bays and islands with pristine white sandy beaches and red low hills. Famous for its dolphins and dugongs as well as turtles, manta rays and stromatolites, similar to the thrombolites we had seen near Mandurah.
One of the more unique beaches is Shell Beach home to 4,000 cockles in one square metre.
The shells of dead cockles make up the beach many metres deep.
Russ confirmed this when he had a go at digging in a small section of the beach.
We launched at the public boat ramp at Monkey Mia. You don’t have to pay to use or park at the boat ramp only if you want to go in to the conservation park adjacent to see the feeding of the wild dolphins by the park rangers each morning. They only get fed a few small fish so they are not dependent on the rangers to feed them and it’s a great opportunity for people without a boat to see them up close. Fortunately as we had a boat the dolphins came to see us several times while we were in the area including 5 of them rounding up fish around the boat late one night. While on the water we also saw a couple of turtles, what we thought might have been a dugong and the sail training tall ship Leeuwin II, a three-masted 1850’s style barquentine that was anchored in the bay with us.
We did a long cruise while we were at Shark Bay cruising for over 20 nautical miles up the peninsula to Herald Bight below Cape Peron. We stayed there over night but with 20knot winds forecast the following day and as the bays are so wide you can’t see the other side of them it meant the waves could get quite choppy. We therefore headed back to the sheltered waters of Monkey Mia and were treated to a magnificent sunset.
If however you have a long weather window for light breezes there would be lots of places to sail to in this area. Steve Campbell of the Macregor/Tattoo Facebook group kindly sent us through a link to a great website written by sailors who have sailed the Shark Bay area for many years. They have created a very detailed log which would be invaluable to anyone else thinking of sailing this area in a trailer sailer. Click the link to read their log https://sites.google.com/a/hinchy.org/sandpiper/locations/shark-bay-area