Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pod of six again!!

Hi All,
We are down to our last day in T&C on this trip. As we are looking around for dorsals in the am, we see a boat stopped in an unusual place just down from Coral House. We motor up to find our friend John and his family watching a pod of six dolphins!!!! I see JoJo is one of them and figure it's the same pod from yesterday. I get in and JoJo comes right over.  Again, it's murky and hard to distinguish who's who. A calf is very friendly circling all around me. I notice eventually that there is a mom with a ragged dorsal and realize it's Raggedy Ann and B.B. Tip maybe the other pair is Shortie and Peanut. Apparently Lemon Lips and his mom have swapped out with Raggedy Ann and B.B.Tip. There is another big dolphin that keeps coming by and he (I think) has a slanting dorsal. He is very interested in looking at me. Sometimes he comes so close that JoJo comes by to check on things. I'm not sure which one of us he's checking on!! John remembers his dorsal from yesterday but today he's much more interactive. I feel they are all greeting me sort of like when they all come together at a meeting place.
They start to move off toward Pine Cay. I get to swim with them for a long time right in the middle of the pod with JoJo and Slantie staying a little behind me. Every now and then Slantie comes over to look at me and I circle which of course puts me behind every one and I have to find them again. As we go past the cut at Leeward I get a little footage but it was murky I was hoping Slantie would come up close but he didn't. As I'm looking at Slantie, I see a stream of blackish liquid coming off the right end of his fluke?? I have never seen that before and will check around to find out what was happening.They start to speed up and I have to get back in the boat.
 Eventually the tour boats start to see us and of course this creates a dolphin traffic jam. At times there are as many as six boats all around. This makes them dive deep. When they want to be with us they stay right along the top looking up occasionally to see if we are there and who's in the boat. They eventually move almost to the end of Pine Cay. They are right in front of the Meridian Club the one resort on Pine Cay. The calves are playing and we see lots of tail slapping and spy hopping when their heads come out of the water almost to their fins. One calf fell over backwards with his fins stretched out and lay there resting. It appeared there were dolphins on either side to support his fins. We found them at 10:30 AM and it is now 3 PM so I get in for one last swim and JoJo comes up. We follow the pod for awhile then my scooter runs out of battery. Time to go and bring our boat back to the marina where it stays until our next trip to the island.
 I will try to get the footage on website when I get home (don't know how to do it from here!!!)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Amazing Dolphin Day

Hi All,
Toward the end of the day John and I decide to go outside the reef toward the end of Pine Cay where in the past there have been dolphin meetings. As we get there, we see a few boats gathered in front of Fort George Cay. We quickly cross through the cut and speed toward them. The boat Captain  is waving at us as they all know about me and JoJo. There are 6 dolphins and JoJo is one of them. I get in and JoJo is very excited to be with a large dolphin they are rolling into each other in a very friendly way. Dolphins are very "touch-feely". Some white remnants and a whole fish comes shooting past me!! I'm not sure whether they were playing with it or one of them regurgitated it!! Or maybe they were sharing!!!The water is very, very murky. If I get so much as three feet away, I can't see them. JoJo comes by and looks right at me. He's very easy to recognize because of his flipper that has a snip off the end. A calf comes rocketing back to check me out and makes a signature whistle. I can't seem to figure out who's who except for JoJo. I'm looking thru the murk to see if there's a ragged dorsal or a dorsal with a tab but all are perfect. JoJo swims off a little way and I get back in the boat. They all come up to the boat and sort of arch their backs and look up into the boat. They seem to want me to join them!!!! I get back in and am right behind all six. Then JoJo swims right in front of me then swims off. I think I'm suppose to follow him. I should have realized he wanted me to stay with the other dolphins.  I lose the pod again and get back in the boat only to have them come up and look at me again! We start the whole thing all over and there I am with six dolphins all around me. As they move off, I decide to stay with the mom and calf. As the calf comes by, I see a nick on his melon and realize it's Lemon Lips. No wonder they are so friendly now I get why JoJo wanted me to stay with them. They let me swim right beside them (what an honor!!) Lemon Lips is rubbing against his Mom, swimming upside down, circling me and just having a great time! At one point, he seemed to be nibbling her pec.
I got behind for awhile and climbed in the boat. Another boat pulled up dragging with a tub with a tourist. I thought that would be the end of my fun. However all the dolphins seemed to be hanging around, so I got in again. I went to Lemon Lips and Bo, who once again they swam slowly making circles so I could keep up.
John who was observing from the boat could see me in the middle of all six dolphins with them cavorting around. When JoJo had left me with Bo and Lemon Lips there were times when I got behind them and John could see Lemon Lips circling back to see if I was coming. He also saw Lemon Lips  porpoise fall over backwards then swim off upside down!!
Earlier that day I had said to John I was ready to go home and go back to work!! Boy did that change!!!  Without getting to emotional about this, its hard to describe how incredible it is to have a pod of dolphins looking up at you wanting you to join them.
I think the other mom and calf was Shortie and Peanut and maybe the other big dolphin was Piney now fattened up. If that's the case, it seems once again the shy ones are ok if they are with a bigger pod or maybe Bo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Xmas from JoJo

Hi All,
I got my Xmas present! We found Shortie and Peanut ( Shortie's calf) out by Coral House and followed them as they meandered along up the coast toward Pine Cay. We lost them at the reef just before Half Moon beach. We decided to bring our friends further up the coast to see the rest of Pine Cay. We were going along and JoJo popped up right in front of Catch Ride and rolled on his back as we passed over him! That woke everyone up!! I believe he does this to protect his dorsal. We figure he wants a ride to Shortie and Peanut. So we turn around and find him a little way off waiting for us. Sure enough he gets in out wake and catches a ride for a little way then branches off. We find him again and he comes to the back of the boat. I decide this might be a good time for a swim. I was right. As soon as I hit the water he starts to follow me and I head toward where we lost sight of Shortie and Peanut. The water is very murky and at times he dives down and I'm not sure he's still with me. But when I circle, he comes right up. I know I don't have too long because as soon as we get to the others he will go to them. Puff, gone!! I climb in Catch Ride and we see all three of them out by the Reef. I think he swam with me to let me know all's well with us, even though the others aren't ready for my company. I'm of course hoping they will  eventually be like the other moms and calves and let me swim with them. We follow them all the way to the end of Pine Cay hoping that maybe there will be a meeting with other dolphins but we don't see any. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Xmas to all!
Yesterday we were flagged down by a tour boat. It was a very windy wavy day. The captain was waving at us so we went over and there we saw two dorsals. The dolphins were fishing so I hopped in right above them. There was Shortie and calf (I think)! Shortie was crater fishing. JoJo immediately appeared. That was really as close as I got to Shortie and her calf. Perhaps is wasn't quite time for JoJo to make his introduction? It's all on their terms. I hope I get to swim with them again and find some distinguishing marks. We tagged along for two hours. I would really like to know where they want to go with hopes of finding them again. Some really dark rain clouds were heading our way to say nothing of the rather large seas that we needed to battle on the way back. So we left them out by the reef in front of Beaches resort.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting Acquainted

I wish I could say the water still looked like this! However a front has moved in! We are now stuck on land waiting (not patiently) for it to move on.
The good news is that two days ago after looking all over for JoJo, we decide to go to Tiki Hut Hut for lunch and as we are almost at Smith Reef which is at the opening of Turtle Cove, I see a dark long shape in the water. We motor up and find two dolphins one of which is a calf. I get in wondering if I know them. I don't. The mom is quite small so I'll name her Shortie. The calf, as usual is perfect so it would be hard to identify again. They let me swim quite close behind them as they make their way toward Smith Reef. The calf swims most of the way upside down! After I fall back and return to the boat.  John starts to bring me to them and I notice the calf and mom are swimming apart, excellent time to get in. The calf comes right at me from the bottom going full blast then swims under me and keeps going. The encounter was short but I feel lucky to have it especially without JoJo's help.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lemon Lips and Bo

Hi All,
Our day started out pretty well seeing the hugest turtle I've ever seen while we were snorkeling out past the reef. I was swimming out to meet John and saw this huge shape coming my way. I was wondering what it was until it got close enough to clearly see. The turtle was coming right along the surface toward me. He wasn't one bit shy like most turtles. Of course when you are that big I guess you don't need to be intimidated! It was crystal clear so I could really get a good look as he passed right by me! He  had some damage to one back leg and kept it up in his shell as he swam along. He looked right at me and just kept following his course. He looked old and very wise!
If that wasn't good enough, later that day John and I were sitting on Catch Ride munching some sandwiches when the Reef Peepers snorkel boat came by. We did our usual signaling raising our arms to indicate we didn't know where JoJo was. Moments later  our radio crackles and Reef Peepers comes across "He's here". We are off like a shot and see a dorsal heading our way. I get in and Lemon Lips comes right up to me!  Bo is at the bottom catching a fish. Lemon lips goes down to catch his own. He's circling around and around following a Bar Jack. He isn't nearly as fast as his mom and doesn't get the fish. They travel off to do more fishing. I get back in Catch Ride so we can catch up as they are scooting around all over. Lemon Lips comes by the boat a few times to check on us but doesn't hang around long enough for me to swim with him. Eventually they come together and slow down and I get to swim with them. Short lived but I'm grateful to get the chance before they are back fishing and continuing with their busy lives. So where's JoJo?? I'm hoping he's with a mom and new born.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

JoJo's Taxi Service

Hi All,
After battling some huge waves at shore to get out to our boat, we begin the search. We try going way  past Turtle Cove. It's beautiful but no dolphins. We have a great snorkel in crystal clear water seeing lots of reef fish and a very large nurse shark. No comparison of course to Smith Reef where we saw Horse Eyed Jacks, two Eagle rays and five turtles yesterday. After eating way too much at Tiki Hut we make our way back toward Ocean Club. I'm mentioning to John how a nap might be good this afternoon when a yellow snorkel boat comes by and one of the operators stands on the roof. I am thinking he is looking at the huge dark clouds that are coming our way. Then he signals us and points in the water. We come closer and he says he's seen a dolphin. Everyone on both boats start staring into the water to see if we can spot a dorsal but there doesn't seem to be any dolphins around. They give up and head towards Leeward while we we start back toward Grace Point hoping to find a dolphin. As we get to Grace Point, John sees a dorsal and we motor up to it. It's JoJo and he seems busy on some sort of mission. He only hangs with me when he is looking at one of the buoys. He's hanging vertically beside me and I'm moving the buoy by kicking it with my flipper. He's watching and clicking. My scooter starts making an alarm noise. I have to go back to the boat this is bad news! I have another scooter for emergencies and if I wear out the newer one. Once I go to the boat JoJo moves off.  I can tell by the way he dives and moves that he's fishing. He's all over the place swimming way too fast for me to keep up. We try to keep track of him from Catch Ride our boat. He starts heading out where the breakers are rolling in by the reef. Now he's in between the big reef and one that's inside. The waves are huge and black clouds are now right over us! It starts pouring and JoJo is heading behind our boat. This is his signal that he's looking to catch a ride. John expertly navigates thru the breakers while I watch to see if JoJo is staying behind us. We bring him to Leeward Cut where he branches off and slows down. After watching for awhile I decide he's just hanging and may want some company. I get to swim with him for a half hour or so. He's swinging his head using his sonar the whole time. I think he's hoping the moms and calves are around. He spots a long weed covered object at the bottom. He wants me to see it. I dive down and there's a long pipe made out of PVC with sea weed growing all over it, one end of it floating a little off the bottom. I'm thinking if I dive down again I could move it probably not bring it up as it's too long. By the time I dive down again JoJo has moved off. A boat comes racing by and JoJo heads a little in it's direction. That's my cue that he's ready to go somewhere. I get back in Catch Ride and JoJo comes for another ride, this time all the way to the end of Pine Cay.  He branches off and we watch as he heads toward Parrot Cay. The same yellow boat comes by returning from some activity on Fort George. They all start cheering and hooping when they see JoJo. I think there was a little more than Gatorade being served on the boat!! JoJo keeps heading toward Parrot Cay and they over take him. He gets in their wake and makes some spectacular leaps much to the thrill of all the inebriated passengers. Even though he ditched us for a better wake and livelier audience, I'm so happy that people get so excited to see him. We head for home as the sun is setting. We get to the Club and we have more waves to contend with. Actually that part didn't go so well! After tying up to the buoy, I swim toward shore catching a wave. As I get close  to shore  thinking I was finally home safe,  I glance back to see a big wave bearing down on me. WIPE OUT!! At least when I hit the bottom it wasn't as far as  falling from a horse!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

John and I arrive with much more energy than our last trip. All I can think about is seeing JoJo. I have worried for almost a year about whether I'd ever see Lemon Lips again.
We start out from Caicos Marina where our boat, "Catch Ride" is waiting. We travel through Leeward and head toward Grace Point visiting various large sail boats that appear to have arrived for the holidays and are moored out front. I make it a practice to ask all the new arrivals if they have seen any dolphins. We visit a huge yacht and one of the crew reports he saw a single dolphin the day before. My hopes are up!!!
As we head past Grace Point, John spots a dorsal. He's heading our way!! Not one dorsal but five!!! JoJo comes right to the boat. I get in and we have a nice nose to rostrum greeting. He then leads me to the others. It's Lemon Lips! He's grown a bit and has a nick or two but still has yellow lips. He swims around me and I see bubbles coming out is blow hole which means he is giving his signature whistle. The others are there too; Bo as perfect as ever, Raggedy Ann and B.B. Tip. At times the calves  swim together and the mom's go off. At times I get to swim with them all. I go right behind the mom's and calves, staying in between both sets. JoJo stays near sometimes behind and sometimes beside me. There's a Hobie Cat that sees them and sails over. Of course they get in the way and sail right over all of them. My pod experience comes to an end. We follow along as they head slowly toward Pine Cay. It's starting to get late and even though I was hoping to see them get to the end of Pine Cay and perhaps meet up with Piney, we decide to head home.
How great is this, coming all the way from RI to find a wild dolphin, finding him the first day and reconnecting with my pod friends.