Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Shark Encounter With Dolphins

Hi All,
We have just returned from a whirlwind trip home with lots to do in order to spend the whole month of February here in Turks and Caicos.
John and I have been contemplating a bigger boat for sometime as our adventures take us over the reef and out in rough seas. As luck would have it, an owner here at Ocean Club was thinking about selling their Whaler and graciously let us take it for a spin. My biggest concern of course, would JoJo like this boat?? Would JoJo figure out I'm on it????
Don, the boat owner, John and I head out for our test drive. Just as we leave Leeward Cut we see a boat behaving in a dolphin sighting way, turning around, going slowly, people looking over the railing. We motor right over and find JoJo slightly ahead of them. I get in but fairly far away and he doesn't see me. After getting back in the boat, we go over, JoJo gets in our wake and we motor off  with him following. A short time later, he branches off and we find him out by the reef. I get in and he comes right up then continues along at a good clip. I get back in the boat and am quite sure he's looking for another dolphin, because he is swinging his head back and forth which means he's echolocating. We followed him along and a mother and calf show up! I get in and as I figured it was Julia and Frisky. Julia has sustained a new puncture wound which looks like a nip. Frisky looks just fine. I get a little interaction then they speed up.  I get back in the boat and say I think they will meet up with Raggedy Ann. As I predicted, a few minutes later she shows up near the cut at Leeward. We see JoJo and her together. This is the time to get in! I have some nice interaction with all of them. I get to see Raggedy Ann being a good aunt to Frisky. They are very affectionate. Lots of touching and rolling into each other. A tour boat comes up and JoJo starts following me with all the other dolphins right behind! Then more and more tour boats come along until it's a zoo and I loose sight of all the dolphins and fear I'll get run over. The boat captains don't realize it's me because they are used to me being with Catch Ride! Some of the captains put swimmers in the water but the dolphins have moved off.
We decide to test drive Don's boat across the reef and head toward a cut. Yes, a bigger boat is dryer and less bouncy in rougher water! (and yes, probably safer :))
We come in from across the reef at Beaches and travel down the coast back toward Leeward. I'm thinking we may meet up with the dolphins because  they were traveling this direction. As we get to Leeward and are about to bring Don back to the marina, we see lots of dorsals. The best part is there were no tour boats in sight!!! I get in and am having a nice time with first JoJo and Raggedy Ann then Julia and Frisky. The groups are ever changing. Suddenly, they all came together in a line with the bigger dolphins on the outside and start swimming very close together. I was wondering what was going on until I saw swimming right under them a large Black Tip Shark. He was making his way through Leeward Channel toward the reef.
I have seen how dolphins behave with Nurse Sharks but never before with a Black Tip. They either heckle Nurse sharks or ignore them. In the past, JoJo has shown me Nurse sharks. I have seen Nurse sharks swim near calves with no reaction from their Moms.
Great day all in all, got to see new behavior and found out JoJo is fine with the new boat!!

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