Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Snipper and Bo

Hi All, Everyday I wonder who I'll find and who will be traveling with whom. Yesterday I left JoJo and Snipper pretty early in the day. I wonder if JoJo minded that. John and I are sitting at the far end of Pine Cay enjoying the sun. I'm snoozing in between looking for dorsals. There's no better place for a snooze than on the water, with the sun beating down and Spy Hop gently rocking in the waves. No one seems to be around so we head back past the Meridian Club when we notice these weird little boats circling around. They are one man boats that look like sit down lawn motors in the water! Of course the dolphins want to check them out! We motor up and see Snipper's dorsal and figure JoJo's with him. Once I get in the REALLY murky water, I see the other fluke and it's not JoJo's. Eventually I get a look at the dolphins side and see blemish below the dorsal on the left side. Its Bo! The water is seriouly murky and I have to look on the surface and hope to see a dorsal to figure out where they are. Snipper is in a playful mood and keeps surfacing right beside me. I'm looking all over knowing he's somewhere and he pops up right beside me! This game goes on for a long time! I think he's totally aware I can't see anything and wants my company! Both dolphins are staying with me despite my losing sight of them every time they dive. How lucky am I to have these amazing dolphins popping up all around me and wanting me to accompany them as they slowly make their way toward Leeward. I go through three scooters as we travel to Leeward. I have to get out a few times so I can warm up and rest. The water starts to clear up in spots as we get to Leeward. There are so many tour boats coming by to see the dolphins but the dolpins really aren't interested. They are milling around Leeward maybe waiting for JoJo to join them. I decide it's time to go in. My scooters are dead and my legs are cramping up from all the swimming! What a great day: to have Snipper and Bo want my company.

Snipper My Buddy from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

Snipper and Bo from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

notice big Southern Ray and both dolphins looking up at tour boats then turning the other way!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Good Dolphin Day

Hi All Finally a great water day! As we come out of Leeward, I don't know which way to go; it's perfect past the reef and perfect up and down the coast. Maybe there's one last whale that hasn't made his way past the island on his way to the Silver Bank. We go past the reef and drop our hydrophone to check. Not a peep! I decide going back to find JoJo and see if Lemon Lips is with him this morning is the way to go. We turn around and head in. I see glistening specks coming our way. The sun's catching two dorsals as they make their way through Leeward Channel. As we motor up I see JoJo's distinctive dorsal and Snippers even more distinctive dorsal. I get in and have a long leisurely swim with them as they make their way toward the resorts. Their route lately seems to head toward Seven Stars turn around and head back. Tour boats start seeing us and come to see JoJo. The dolphins aren't one bit interested in greeting this morning. They aren't fishing, playing or interacting with boats. They are just happy to swim along peacefully in no apparent hurry. We have David with us, who's dying to get in with JoJo. I tell him if Snipper gets a little ahead, he should climb in and maybe JoJo will look at his camera. This has worked for Nic and Ted. As predicted JoJo stops to check out the Go Pro on a stick then swims back to me and we head off to find Snipper. Having a seven foot dolphin come look at you is pretty terrific even if he didn't choose to swim with you. The dolphins head out toward the reef and mill around. The water is so inviting past the reef and there is a cut right in front of us. I decide we should leave our friends and see what's out past the reef. I of course have visions of whales, perhaps new whales we haven't seen before and spotted dolphins whirling around my head! David has in the mean time found on his phone a picture of what we think we saw the other day, a Cuvier Beaked Whale. It's head is white and with age more of his body turns white. He has a small dorsal located fairly far back on his body which is exactly what we saw. Mystery solved! Apparently, they can dive really deep and not surface to breath for three hours! This makes it hard to study them. We were so lucky to see one. We head to Northwest Point and drop in the hydrophone. There is only the swishing of water and crackling of shrimp. I want to go back to where we saw the Cuvier Whale. So we head in the opposite direction toward Parrot Cay. I'm so loving the flat glistening water with welcomed sunshine beating down. It's the middle of the day and we stop for lunch hoping to see some activity as we float in this vast ocean. There isn't even a bait ball. Nothing broke the surface of this magnificent flat sea. After finishing our usual P,B and J and tuna fish we are off toward Parrot Cay. Just as I spot the ritzy Parrot Cay Inn in the distance, I see some splashing as a pod of Spotted dolphins heads toward our boat. John entertains them driving in circles and they join us riding the bow wave and surfing the wake. We see some very tiny calves also riding the bow wave. Yikes! Sort of like kids playing in traffic but they are so adept even at a young age they have great fun and don't get hurt. David and I get in and have some fun swimming with our new friends. Once we leave them the sky is starting to cloud up and I'm determined not to get soaked like yesterday so we head in.

JoJo and Snipper 3-18-18 from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

Spotted Dolphins outside of Pine Cay from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lemon Lips and JoJo Meeting

Hi All, The past few days have been difficult for boating with a big swell coming from up North. We are happy to finally be out on Grace bay without bouncing all over! After not finding JoJo in front of the resorts, we head to Pine Cay. I have been hoping everyday that I would see the Tropic Birds coming to the cliffs of Pine Cay and Fort George Cay to nest and have their chicks. Tropic birds are pelegic and only come to shore in spring to have their babies. Today we see lots of beautiful Tropic Birds flying over the cliffs surveying where they want to make their nests.
On our way back after dodging a few rain storms we find JoJo at Leeward wanting a ride. We take him past all the resorts then back to Ocean Club. We had company on board and one passenger needed to climb off at Ocean Club. We drop him close to shore, JoJo branches off and we lose sight of him. With the impending rain we decide to head to Leeward. There were some serious black clouds pretty much everywhere and just as we decide to head in John see's a dorsal. We figure whoever it is must be on his or her way to meet JoJo. I'm happy we are all in agreement to get wet so I can figure out who is meeting JoJo. I get in and get an enthusiastic greeting from Lemon Lips! We are pretty sure JoJo will show up any minute however the rain is closing in and its nasty! We decide to race back to the marina to beat the rain. We didn't make it in time!

Lemon Lips Is Happy To See me from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

I'm adding the picture of the whale or dolphin from the other day. We didn't get the camera out in time to get his white head. He was about 20 feet long and looked just like a Rizzo's dolphin all except the dorsal.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Whales,Dolphins and ?

Hi All, There is lots of activity on the dock everyone knows the wind is down and it will be a good day. The captains and crew are hustling around preparing their boats. There are mounds of food and rum punch being loaded. There is much excitement in the air and everyone is discussing where they are going. They want to know if we are finding JoJo or whales. There's a procession of tour boats leaving the marina hoping for adventure! Ted and Suz our friends join us at 8:15 sharp with their lunch, cameras and snorkel gear. We head to North West Point with visions of whales and dolphins whirling around in our heads! I see some activity on the horizon before we even get there. A pod of Spotted dolphins are porpoising out of the water. One high jumper is a good 10 feet off the surface! I'm hustling around to get flippers and camera for a quick entrance as John entertains them by whizzing around in circles as they bow ride and porpoise in our wake. As John slows down, I hop into the deep dark blue water. Immediately two dolphins come over to greet me. For some reason there always seems to be a mother and calf that want to play with me. They circle wildly as if staking me out as their toys! There are other dolphins around but these two have laid claim! I play with them for a half hour then figure we should get on with our whale search and return to the boat. I see the mother come back wanting her human toy to stay a little longer. As I climb on board, I'm told the rest of the pod had moved on leaving my friends behind.

Spotted Dolphins 2 from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

The wind and waves are coming from the South West making it a bit more choppy than we anticipated at North West Point. After putting the hydrophone in and not hearing any whales, we decide to go back in the other direction past Pine Cay and outside of North Caicos. It's a beautiful smooth ride toward Pine Cay as we glide along with the wind and waves at our back. There are battalions of flying fish taking off as we approach, a frigate bird soaring over head and it's snowing like crazy at home. How lucky are we! We aren't seeing any spouts at all as we pass Pine Cay, Parrot cay and on towards North Caicos. We drop the hydrophone in again and can hear a whale but only faintly. After turning around and heading into the wind and waves I finally see a spout way out on the horizon. John immediately turns to investigate and Ted's very special, favorite hat flys off his head into the water. We have to retrieve it before going out! This turns out to be a stroke of good luck. We don't find the whale but as we are all getting hungry and decide to go to Pine Cay to hang out for lunch Ted spots the most interesting whale? Dolphin? Its head was white as it surfaced and breathed. It stayed on the surface for quite awhile. It looked to be about twenty-four feet long. It had a small dorsal fin. Ted hustles around to take pics before it sinks down into the depths. We are all so excited and are speculating on what we have just seen! We are hoping his pics come out so we can try to look it up. We head back inside the reef to discuss our find and chow down our lunch. I'm wondering if we can find JoJo before the day is done! We head back to Grace Bay and we see a group of boats milling around Leeward. Everyones jumping in to try to swim with JoJo who is nonchalantly swimming up and down one of their anchor lines while Snipper is patiently waiting for his friend. After the tourists all check it off their "to see" list, I get a nice swim with the boys. JoJo goes down to the bottom where there are tufts of weeds swaying in the current. There he finds some fish trying to hide. I am so happy to see him catch and eat them. Now I know for sure his mouth has made a full recovery. He comes straight up to me after eating a few fish. I think he wants me to see that all is well! I believe dolphins use telepathy to communicate and I think we just did the same!

JoJo Fishes with Snipper from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We are Back and get a Nice Greeting

Hi All, We got out of New England in the nick of time! There's another Nor'Easter heading their way! So great to be in Provo! We gather all our equipment and head to the marina. I bought yet another water scooter and brought back the scooter with the repaired on/off switch. The trick is usually getting through security with a lithium battery. This time however John sailed right through with the battery and a small knife he forgot he packed! I however was pulled aside for a box of raisins! Go Figure! The weather is great especially knowing what's about to happen at home. I'm eager to see JoJo I figure all his cuts and the puncture wound are healed. The important thing is if he can open his mouth wide enough to fish. It was pure luck! I spotted the dolphins quite near the reef along Pine Cay. There is a huge tanker that I am watching just outside the reef. They aren't usually in this area. As I'm looking to see how massive this ship is, I see a black speck which turns out to be a dorsal. We head toward the speck and JoJo and Snipper appear. I got into the very murky water and got a nice JoJo greeting. He seemed quite interested in the new scooter which makes a slightly different noise than the old one.

JoJo and New Scooter from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

I see JoJo open his mouth really wide which makes me happy that all is working correctly again. I really think he knew I was concerned and showed me. The murky water makes it hard to follow the dolphins so, I get back in Spy Hop and hope they will eventually head into clear water. We go all the way past Club Med before it's clear enough to get in. This time I get in and a fish immediately swims between my arms. I look to the right and see a fairly large barracuda with his sharp little teeth glistening as he hovers right near me. He is clearly after the fish that has taken refuge between my arms and my water scooter! This is way worse than the episode in my book with a dolphin after the fish! JoJo swims right under me and I'm asking him to please come take the fish but he's not even slightly interested! Snipper comes along and he's equally uninterested. By this time the fish is now swimming around my legs and I'm envisioning the barracuda mistaking my knee for fish! Dolphins are supposed to come to your rescue but they didn't see any need apparently. The fish swims of or at least I couldn't feel him running into my legs. JoJo goes off to investigate a Hobie Cat and Snipper and I swim along together. I for one was happy to have some company. Snipper turns back slightly and locates the barracuda (I knew that sneaky devil was still following me!). He looks at it then off we go. I haven't seen JoJo for a while and am enjoying Snippers company when JoJo appears right beside me traveling on his side. All seven feet of him appearing suddenly at your side can be a bit startling which of course is his plan!It kind of reminded me of Kramer making an entrance! How vulnerable we are in their world and how lucky I am they are my friends!

Fish takes refuge In My arms from Barracuda! from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

New Scooter from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

how I miss this face when I'm away

Saturday, March 3, 2018

More whales

Hi all, Spectacular day on the water! With almost no wind the conditions are spectacular for anything on the water. Knowing this was the forecast, we had invited David along with hopes of more whale encounters. Whenever it's this great we head to Northwest Point. We are rewarded with two whales. I thought I heard something as we are watching them spout them dive. I asked John to turn off the motor and we could hear them vocalizing right through the boat! As soon as David and John got in the water, the vocalizations stopped. They didn't see the whales. As soon as they got on the boat, the vocalizations started up! David put his Go Pro down for evidence!
We traveled through the blue green water to the end of West Caicos not seeing any spouts but totally loving the crystal clear water as Spy Hop quietly motored along. It was so clear David spotted a school of fish from the boat and I got in to explore. Its pretty clear when you can see schools of fish and barracuda swimming along without even getting in the water! There was a large school of Horse Eyed Jacks, my favorite fish (for watching, not eating). When I dove down I think they felt sorry for me for not being able to stay long! They followed me up.

Horse Eyed Jacks from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

We start heading back hoping for more encounters. We find two more whales that were equally as disinterested in swimming with the boys! Still a great day. I am off island for a week. I will miss JoJo and his family more than you can imagine but will be back soon with more updates.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Yahoo Whale and Dolphin Bonanza

Hi All, As predicted, the wind is down and we are out at day break. A King Fisher flies over the channel as we pass by Mrs Osprey who's eating her fish breakfast. All good omens! There are waves coming out of Leeward Channel hmmm. We go past the channel markers and there are big rolling swells that make large waves on the reef. When Spy Hop climbs to the top of a swell we can see way out on the ocean. My favorite kind of day! No chop, no bouncing, no splashing just gentle swells a perfect day for cetacean viewing! We drop the hydrophone in at Northwest Point and feel like we are on the whale thoroughfare. We look and look don't see a spout but, we know they are around! Off to West Caicos with the gentle swells gently pushing us along. We see a Coast Guard Helicopter flying along and John kiddingly goes on the radio and asks if they have seen any whales. They come back with coordinates fairly far out to sea! We go to the location indicated but don't see any spouts. As we head back toward West Caicos I see a spout then that gorgeous turquoise color of the water washing over their pecs as they surface. We get pretty close and John gets in. He gets a brief glimpse as a mother and calf swim by. He gets back in Spy Hop and we find them again. This time John gets in and they swim under the boat and come up beside Spy Hop, before swimming away. I was debating getting in then trying to film but it all happened so fast I didn't get anything done! John gets back in Spy Hop and asks if I'd like to get in. ARE YOU KIDDING!!! WOULD I LIKE TO GET IN!?!?! I've been trying to be a good sport and let him swim with the whales since he always drives the boat and rarely gets the fun part of swimming with the dolphins. I climb in. Whoa! Its deep and really dark blue. Visibility is not great. I see a white pec up ahead, now a whole whale comes into view. She's hanging quietly in the water. I stay a respectful way off hoping she'll be comfortable with my company. Pretty soon her calf comes up to breath and sees me. He sinks down again under Mom's chin but next time he comes up to breath, he comes closer. Every time he surfaces, he comes a little closer and Mom's not minding at all. It's now been about 20 blissful minutes and she slowly surfaces to breath. As she drops back down she and junior start slowly swimming and they are perfectly content having me swim along beside them. She swims with her calf under her just like the dolphins. They start to slowly descend into the deep dark blue. I really think they would have been ok if I had followed them but thought if I wanted to keep my boat driver, I'd better go back and try not to gloat too much :)

Mother and Calf Humpback from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.

There was no music that would have been better than the peace of their existence. If that wasn't cool enough, on the way back as I'm grinning reliving how cute junior was coming to check out the human, we see a dolphin porpoise ahead of us. Spotted dolphins start racing the boat, riding the bow wave and porpoising. I get in and a mother and calf take an immediate interest in me. They whirl around me so close it's slightly unnerving! They are whistling loudly as they circle me. I try to swim toward other dolphins and they cut me off and swim right in front of me! I am their human toy and they arent sharing! The mother has lots of spots and her calf doesn't but will as he ages. She seems the most interested in playing with me. The calf gets some one on one with me after she calms down. We've really had a great day and need to head home so I leave my new dolphin friends and head back to Spy Hop. While we are motoring off through the gentle swells I see a boat way behind us making circles! The party dolphins have no doubt found another boat to play with! I don't think we can top today but I'll let you know tomorrow!

Spotted Dolpins Play Play Play from Jay Sargent on Vimeo.