The afternoon I arrived the water was its usual dazzling self. The ocean was flat as I went for a nice long swim to wash away any jet lag. I did notice a slight swell but didn't think a thing about it as I started preparing for the next days adventure in the boat.
Since John was coming down later after attending a convention, I hired Eddie a boat captain. Eddie grew up on South Caicos and knows the water well. There isn't anyway I can get in the water without someone manning the boat. I invited two good friends who wanted to get some dolphin footage and check out Spy Hop.
Morning arrives and I hear the surf pounding from my condo. Hmmm, not good. Apparently during the night a front from the north pushed some big swells down towards the islands. As we poked our nose out of Leeward, the waves are huge and there is a stream of tour boats coming to the South Side looking for quiet water.
Eddie tells us he has seen dolphins out near the channels on the back of North Caicos. We head out hoping to find some. After not spotting any dorsals, we start exploring the channels. If I can't be with dolphins there's no greater place to be. The channels are lined with mangroves. Birds are hiding in the branches and fish are swimming in and out of their massive root systems. There is a whole community of wildlife based around these channels. The mangroves are the driving force. Their long roots reach down trapping sand to form mud flats and the roots are busy turning the salt water into fresh water to nourish the rest of the plant. Herons are screeching their disapproval of our coming to their private sanctuary. I'm looking for the little crabs that use leaves as rafts and mention this to Eddie who is familiar with them. He says it makes it easy for the fish to snap them up. I always thought of them being a sort of A La Carte crabs on a plate for the birds!
Eddie knows these channels like the back of his hand which is a good thing because one could easily get totally lost back there!! He expertly guides our boat through the narrow channels. The tide is coming in and creating a strong current making it tricky to keep our bigger boat from either getting caught up on a sand spit or run into the mangrove roots that reach out into the channel. He takes us to a large mangrove island where the red mangroves tower above all the others. There must be over a hundred herons of all sizes covering the branches. They're most displeased with our approach and start flying away. Spectacular watching them fly off. Some disappear but others stay close by. Perhaps they had their babies and didn't want to go far. We start off down another channel that magically comes out on the other side of the peninsula of land. I'm really taking mental notes so John and I can find it again. The mouth is well hidden and very shallow. Eddie has the motor trimmed up and we slowly sputter along until it opens up to a wide and fairly deep channel with the occasional turtle popping its head up.
The channel comes out on the other side of Muddy Point behind Pine Cay and Delis Cay. Suz spots a dorsal and the fun begins:) We follow it along until as I expected, we see another dorsal. They come together and start playing with our boat crossing under the bow, turning on there sides and looking up at us. Ted is sitting with his long legs draped on either side of the bow taking video with a GoPro. When the dolphins come under the boat his feet almost brush their dorsals. When they slip out to the side, we get in front and I get in to see if I can swim with them. They come by but it's way too murky for me to even see them. In between my attempts of swimming with them they play with the boat darting to and fro under the bow.
We finally get into some clearer water where I can start to see them. They are whizzing around me in circles then off to the bow. Each time I try, I'm getting a longer swim with them. The smaller one seems to like me and I can now see that he has the same mark on his fluke that Lemon Lips has perhaps a little more tattered. Is it him? From the boat we are thinking, maybe male and female. We see them belly to belly. Are they mating? I get in again. NO definitely two males!! and they are aroused. They keep circling me and swimming under me. The water is maybe 4 feet deep. How fun is this! Off they go and as I climb in to Spy Hop I ask Ted if he'd like to get in when they come back around. He climbs in but they swim off. I'm curious to see if they will now swim with me again. This time, the little one circles me then lets me swim with him like I do with JoJo. Now I'm pretty sure it's Lemon Lips. Maybe the other one is B.B.Tip! I get back on the boat totally exhilarated by our time together. A state of euphoria that comes from swimming with dolphins! They start to separate and we decide it's time to head home.