Monday, March 30, 2015

JoJo Swimming around Sea Dancer

Hi All,
The weather turned nasty yesterday and we came in early enabling me to catch up so here's what I did.
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This clip is from Saturday the day  I swam with JoJo as he circled around and around the big motor yacht Sea Dancer. Toward the end of the clip JoJo was following me to Spy Hop. It's really hard to swim forwards while filming backwards! Please keep that in mind as you watch!
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I also spent most of the night with apple to figure out how to get video from camera to iMovie so I could put JoJo leaping to music and here's the result!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

There is NO doubt JoJo is healed and Frisky as Ever

Hi All,
The weather has given us a gift! There is almost no wind and the sea is flat. We are heading out of Leeward and starting the search for dorsals when I see a large dark shape in the water. I get in to investigate. I see a rather large gorgeous manta ray in front of me. I swim slowly behind as it slowly flaps it's massive wings up and down. The longer I stay the slower it goes. It knows I'm not a threat and starts to sway back and forth slowly in front of me and I imitate by swerving back and forth behind it. We are doing a sort of underwater dance. Occasionally it turns to look at me with it's big round eyes and Star Trek sort of head. I got to have this dance for a long time until a dive boat came by, curious why we were stopped.
We then start cruising up and down the coast in search of dolphins. Once again we see Tropic birds soaring way above us as we were traveling along beside the cliffs of Pine Cay.
It's now the middle of the day and no dolphins. I see a friend of ours boat (Oscar's boat). They have a film crew on board with Dean Bernal. They are also looking for JoJo. The plan is to do a show with 5 friendships that are out of the ordinary. JoJo is one of them. Dean is the person who originally figured out that JoJo wanted to be friendly with people but didn't want them to touch him. He was the first person to have a long relationship with JoJo. I'm hoping that they will include me as a sort of wrap up of who JoJo is friends with now. We motor over and they ask us if we've seen JoJo. On a perfectly flat day one would think it would be easy to spot a dorsal!
I call Flipper Lady to see if she's seen JoJo from her condo that over looks Grace Bay. She hasn't seen any dolphins either. We swing by and pick her up since I know she is obsessed by seeing JoJo. After traveling all over Grace Bay we head back up to Pine Cay and there he is entertaining a big yacht. I get in and have a very long swim with him. I was able to entice him away from this boat and come over to Spy Hop long enough for Flipper Lady to get a short swim with him. When this boat took up their anchor JoJo followed along in their wake and we motored along with them. They were having a Birth Day celebration with champagne and balloons. Not bad to have a dolphin join your B'day party! When they sped up the fun began!!! JoJo came to us and fell in behind us. Then two other boats came by with boat captains I know. When the boats came really close it formed a big wake and JoJo performed some aerial acrobatics. Please ignore all the whooping, clapping and carrying on. We got pretty excited. JoJo of course is the ultimate showman!
please go to U Tube my video was too long!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How Great is This

Hi All,
Another fabulous sunny day in Turks, we are heading out of Leeward with a couple from Ocean Club that would like to meet JoJo. We turn down Grace Bay and I tell them the usual "don't get your hopes up we might not find him".
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HERE'S JOJO, he comes swimming up to our boat and right down the center.  He wants a ride to Pine Cay. Off we go with numerous tour boats coming by with their passengers cheering wildly every time he surfaces. JoJo just wanted a ride so he could have breakfast at his favorite fishing spot. After breakfast he wants to go back to Grace Bay and he hails his favorite taxi, Spy Hop to take him there! Now for the best part, we get to Beaches where the water's so amazingly clear and I get to spend some quality time with my buddy. We swim through the finger coral, JoJo taking the opportunity to scratch; we play bang the buoy; we check out a downed wind surfer. If this wasn't enough activity JoJo goes over to the Beaches dive boat and performs a few ariel leaps in their wake.
Now, its time to head back to Pine Cay and off we go. As we head down the coast of Pine Cay, I see two lovely Tropic Birds with their long white tails gliding high above us. These pelagic birds are here to nest in the cliffs and have their babies before heading back to sea for the rest of the year.
JoJo has now gone off and we are traveling back toward Leeward when I see a huge splash out beyond the reef. I keep watching to see if maybe it is just a wave hitting the reef but I don't see any more splashes. The whales have pretty much gone by so what am I seeing? I decide to mention this sighting and we go out to investigate. We head out past the reef and drop our hydrophone in the water. We don't hear a thing. We head back and I'm wondering what could have made that big splash, when I see a spout!! We motor over to where we think the spout came from and again drop the hydrophone in the water. This time as soon as it submerges, we start hearing all sorts of high pitched squeaks, low groans, barks and other unearthly noises. We see more spouts this time. It appears there may be three whales from all the spouts. John gets in and swims over toward them. A mother and calf come right by him. He gets back on the boat elated to have a great whale encounter. As we start to leave them, we see the escort going along the reef to catch up to the mother and calf. It pays to keep your eyes on the water!!
Now our guests maybe a bit crisped but are over the top at having so many adventures in one outing! As we again start back toward Leeward who do we see but JoJo coming along in the other direction. I get in and he's slowly traveling in circles along the bottom. He then regurgitates some fish remains and heads off toward Pine Cay! This behavior doesn't call for alarm, I have seen it many times!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Great Greeting

Hi All,
As I look down from our plane, I see there are no white caps. I'm thinking, "How long will it take us to get out on that water"! It's early afternoon as we touch down, the temp is 86 and Tina's Taxi is waiting to take us to Ocean Club. We drive along Leeward Highway and I see that the Lignum Vitae trees are all in bloom. They have brilliant blue flowers. We get to our condo, grab the essentials then off to The Shipyard where I drop off John so he can motor around to Blue Haven and pick me up. We're off!
We go out Leeward Channel turn down Grace Bay partially because there is a huge dark cloud but mainly because Flipper Lady has been keeping me updated on dolphin sightings in front of her resort!
We see a dorsal in front of Seven Stars. It isn't JoJo and who ever it is, is darting all over fishing. Then we think we see another dorsal! Whoever they, they are fishing and moving all over. When one settles down, we motor over and I get in to find Raggedy Ann who graciously swims slowly so I can follow along. Zoom!! Who's this flying up to me! JoJo appears so suddenly I didn't see him coming. He gives me perhaps the best greeting ever. All I can think is how can I leave this dolphin for eight months when this trip is over.
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He swims off slowly then picks up speed to go find Raggedy Ann (RA). I get back in Spy Hop and John tells me he watched JoJo come flying up to greet me:). Not to be a sap but, it's a pretty great feeling!
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We find JoJo and RA and as I get ready to climb back in the water, a tour boat barges in and one of the crew leaps in the water (soft landings are better). Needless to say RA and JoJo disappeared for quite awhile. We are looking around when JoJo surfaces right beside us! RA has had enough of humans and is no where to be seen. JoJo wants my company and I can't wait to join him. Some friends of ours are watching the whole thing from their boat. They have a really nice dog on board. I'm hoping I can make the introduction but I couldn't convince JoJo that he should go to their boat and meet Oscar! We go off for a nice swim over a coral reef where there all lots of fish. I see a really nice ballon fish which I thought you could see in the video clip. Unfortunately, it was behind JoJo and I didn't get it in the frame. You will see how great his gash looks. A true testament to the healing power of dolphins. A para-sail boat has come by to see JoJo. We give them a quick hello as we swim by it . Now we are back at Spy Hop with JoJo right at the stern. It means JoJo would like a ride somewhere. I climb in and off we go with JoJo in our wake. All is right in the world!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

JoJo Encounter

Hi All,
I'm a little late getting this out because the internet has been down.
The weatherman had predicted strong winds and choppy seas but as we come out of Leeward, the water looks great. Whenever the wind is from the East the seas tend to get flattened on Grace Bay. I'm really hoping to see JoJo because it's out last day for this trip and because I want some more footage of his gashes. I thought the last time I looked at them three days ago, the big one had a yellowish tinge and I didn't like the looks of that.
We cruise past Beaches looking for JoJo and find him heading towards our boat. Did he find us? It is the time of the morning when all the tour boats are picking up tourists and bringing them to various snorkel sights or beautiful white beaches. As they get near our boat they look to see if JoJo is with us. I usually signal them if he is so they can come by to see the famous JoJo. This morning we have at least 12 boats pull up beside us with people peering out trying to see JoJo. As soon as he surfaces they all gasp ohh and ahh. We see jaws dropping, cameras flashing and everyone pointing. The captains wave a thanks and off they go only to have another one come up. This goes on until the last tour boat has made its way by us.
JoJo decides he would like to do some fishing and branches off at Leeward. He likes to fish in the channel because there is lots of activity with marine life passing through that channel including a multitude of fish. I've seen him chase Bar Jacks there on many occasions. After a half hour of fishing he heads toward Pine Cay and as we pass him, he once again gets in our wake. He wants to go to the end of Pine Cay where the water is pretty rough out by the reef. He branches off and appears to be looking for other dolphins but doesn't find any. We lose sight of him in the big waves and decide to head into the channel between Dellis Cay and Fort George Cay for a little lunch. As we turn in John sees JoJo heading into that channel.  We eat our lunch and watch JoJo getting his.  He's going from one end of the channel to the other fishing. It's great to see he can now comfortably fish without the gashes bothering him. For a long time he was only able to crater fish where he could swim slowly along the bottom finding his prey in the sand. In the channels he's going after bigger swimming fish. We see turtles popping their heads up surprised to see us drifting along near them. There are bone fisherman wading around in the shallows with their flat bottom boats near by. There is one tour boat with tourists who are also watching JoJo fishing. One starts clapping his hands. Hmm, does he think JoJo will come like his dog???
After an hour and a half, JoJo seems to have had his fill and starts heading back toward Grace Bay. We once again drive by and he gets in our wake. We are quite accommodating! As we are motoring along, I signal to a small tour boat that we have JoJo with us and they also come by. The captain gets on his radio and asks that if we stop and if it wouldn't interrupt our encounter could they swim with JoJo. We were planning on stopping where the water is clearest so I could get some footage of his cut. We were hoping JoJo would accommodate us and stay around. I tell the captain to stop with us and when I get out they could come in the water to see JoJo. John stops the boat near Beaches where the water is always clear and I get in. I tell the other boat to drop anchor hoping that will keep JoJo around for them to see him.  JoJo heads right down their anchor line. Because his cuts are healing, just like us they really itch and that anchor line gives him a great opportunity to scratch. I was hoping these people would just watch this wonderful dolphin, however they got very pushy about seeing him. I warned them that if he opened his mouth they would need to back off. You will see in the video how the good free diver with blue swim trunks gets in JoJo's space. At first you can see how excited he is to get great footage with his camera. He then gets more and more aggressive trying to interact with JoJo who just wanted to scratch his itchy cuts. Finally, the swimmer starts traveling down the anchor line like JoJo. I tried to tell them to back off and just watch instead of getting in JoJo's space.  After blue suit goes down the line JoJo has had enough and he and I swim off. You will see in the film clip that his gash is closing and looks very healthy. There is a section of the film that JoJo is following me and I'm trying to swim backwards while filming without having water go down my snorkel! You will also see JoJo have a quick snack as he crater fishes.
JoJo then decides to head back to the tour boat for one last scratch. Most of the snorkelers are back on the boat. JoJo gets a few runs up and down the anchor line before they all get back in the water. I'm asking them again to back off and let him swim to the top of the line without getting in his way. I just don't understand why they can't enjoy watching him without getting in his space. Blue suit is again following him all over with his camera. JoJo stops and stares at him. He was warning this guy to stay off the anchor line. Blue pants persists. He's at the bottom of the line following JoJo and JoJo opens his mouth threatening him. FINALLY blue pants gets the message, puts his camera behind his back and swims away. JoJo had had enough and starts to head away from their boat and pushy people. He waits for me to join him and we left. John came by with Spy Hop and I climbed on as JoJo got in the wake. I was upset that people can't just enjoy the opportunity to watch this amazing dolphin without getting in his personal space.
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By the time we got up to Pine Cay, I had stopped fuming and was watching the sun starting to set. We were traveling along by the reef and the water had settled down from the morning. I mentioned to John that on our last day it would be really cool to see a whale breach. Just as I said that, I saw a blow right across the reef from us!!! JoJo in the wake, a whale across the reef! Decisions decisions! We kept to our mantra always stay with JoJo until he branches if at all possible! Now, we had a problem. What if JoJo wants to go way up to North Caicos? The sun's going down and John has to bring Spy Hop back to the Shipyard where it stays when we are away. Solution! We see a big sail boat anchored at the end of Pine Cay. We know JoJo will want to check out this boat if we come close enough to it. As we get near, I yell to the passengers "I'm bringing you a dolphin!" The respond, "Is it JoJo?" we tell them yes as he heads their way! We head back at top speed so John can bring the boat around to the other side of the island where it will stay for three weeks until we return.
I'm hoping people will respect JoJo's space. It worries me he will get the reputation he had years ago of being aggressive and sometimes biting people. He is such a nice, wonderful dolphin that is happy to have people watch him. If they could only understand he wouldn't dream of hurting anyone if they would just respect his space.