Monday, May 29, 2017

Pinnacles, Kalbarri, and Shark Bay

By Jen.

From Harvey, we went Northwards past Perth (well, after stopping for some groceries). North of Perth, there isn’t a lot. Typically, there are at least 100 km between anything. Anything being as small as a roadhouse or lookout or as large as city of about 5000 people. There are a lot of similarities to the area when driving the Nullarbor highway. This has actually proved beneficial for me. The day before my birthday, I managed to sprain my knee, so I have been hobbling around since then. I have been trying to follow the RICE treatment, so spending long hours riding in the van at least keeps me off my feet. And, fortunately, there haven’t been too many hike options, so that helps as well. I would take prayers, though, as this is very inconvenient. I had thought I was completely healed so long as I didn’t do anything too stupid, but now I feel like I am back in square 1 again.

After Perth, the first attraction was the Pinnacles Desert. These interesting spires are limestone columns that formed when sea levels were higher. Kinda fun, aren’t they?



Then, we made our way to Kalbarri National Park. There are only 2 hikes really recommended here, and as we drove into the park, we found out that the access to those hikes were closed, so I didn’t have anything to regret. At Lake Thetis, we found some stromatolites, which are related to the thrombolites we found farther south.


Then as we made our way along the coastline for its various viewpoints, we encountered a sea eagle! These eagles are endangered and extremely rare. It was quite surprising and we weren’t really expecting it at all (though, to be fair, we were along the coast, which increases are chances exponentially).



DSCN3253On our way out of one of the viewpoints, this large short-beaked echidna was “hiding” on the road.


We left that park and started our journey northwards again. Another day of driving put us in Shark Bay region, where we visited another stromatolite population in Hamelin Pool that put the first set to shame with its size, shape, and health.


Then we made our way towards Monkey Mia, stopping at a few scenic locations along the way.

Shell Beach. This beach was made entirely of cockle shells. In some areas, it was up to 8m deep.

Mangroves at a small lagoon.

Then, finally, the highlight of trip, a close encounter with wild dolphins. Apparently dolphins had been fed at this spot for about 50 years now, beginning when a fishing couple started dumping out the fish that they didn’t want when they returned home. Eventually, researchers and the Parks and Wildlife department (DPaW) showed up there to monitor the interactions. Apparently, in the 80s, people would feed and pet the dolphins all the time. But, the researchers discovered that that interaction resulted in a 80% mortality rate for the dolphin calves. The dolphin mothers were paying too much attention to people, waiting for handouts than to their calves. The calves would then either die of malnutrition (as they need deeper water to nurse), not be taught the proper fishing habits (and not be able to feed themselves), or be eaten by sharks when they mother was not around. Problems identified by the researchers, the DPaW implemented a feeding regimen, which still allowed human interaction with the dolphins but for the dolphins to still be wild. Now, they only do feedings up to 3 times in the morning and only to 5 specific females. The total amount is less than 10% of each dolphins required daily intake. You also are not allowed to touch the dolphins (passes diseases and irritations to dolphins). I witnessed 2 feedings, but wasn’t picked for handing the fish to the dolphin. It was still really fun to witness. It was really impressive how shallow of water they could swim in.




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