CONCERNS that Monkey Mia's world-famous dolphins had failed to appear for six days were allayed on Saturday when two returned to the beach with their calves.
Tourists who made the long trek to the beach at Shark Bay in Western Australia were rewarded with sightings of dolphin mothers Surprise and Shock and their two-month-old calves, Sonic and Static, at three feeding sessions.
But they did not return yesterday morning. The WA Department of Environment and Conservation said six consecutive days was the longest the dolphins had stayed away since official records began in 1996.
However, the department's Shark Bay marine park co-ordinator Dave Holley said a perusal of older, rough records showed they had been absent for seven days in 1989.
He said the dolphins often disappeared for one or two days and it could take some time before they returned to a daily routine.
"I guess it just highlights the fact they are wild animals," he said.
Mr Holley said the dolphin pod was "preoccupied" with the recent births of calves and would be sticking closely together to safeguard them against sharks.
Good conditions meant fish stocks were also plentiful out to sea.
"It depends what the fish are doing," he said. "If it's still good fishing out there then they might have full bellies and not need to come in."