Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pod of Bottlenose Dolphins

Hi All,
As we come out of Leeward the water is totally flat. It looks like a mirror. I look down into the crystal clear turquoise water and see fish going about their busy lives darting here and there in the coral. You don't even need to get in the water to see all the activity.
Our plan is to take advantage of the flat sea and go past the reef to hopefully find a cetacean filled adventure! I'm not sure who loves the flat sea more the birds or me. They are swooping down and catching unsuspecting fish. The life of a fish is filled predators from the sky and predators from the depths. A pelican circles above then plummets into the water. I notice three terns circling quite  a way out. The more I look ,the more I think I see something black below them. We head out to investigate.
There is a fairly large pod of bottle-nose dolphins. I slip into the dark blue water and start seeing dolphins. Some take a look at me and others go about their lives without taking much notice. A mother and calf come along and stay just in front of me. The calf  has taken his position under his mom. He is not only getting protection but a slipstream effect making his keeping up a bit easier. You'll notice a lot of touching and caressing.  I get to swim with them for awhile then they fade into the distance because I can't keep their pace.
We travel past Northwest Point but it starts to get choppy and I start thinking the dolphins like smooth water and they were going toward Pine Cay. We turn around and travel way past Pine Cay putting the hydrophone in along the way. Once we were past Parrot Cay, John sees something big right near our boat. It's a whale but a whale on a mission. There is no chance for interaction as he heads rapidly toward North Caicos and I'm sure around the islands toward the Silver banks. This is where the Humpbacks from up North that feed on the Stellwagen Bank migrate to have their calves and mate. The Silver Banks are between the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos. We put the hydrophone in to see if there might be another whale in the area. I believe the whales can be traveling together but they can communicate over such long distances that they can be miles apart at any given time. We hear some squeaks, groans and sort of yelps. John spots a spout and we find another Humpback. This one is also on the move. By now it's getting late in the day and we have a long ride home. As John starts the motor it makes dreadful noise and stalls. This is your biggest nightmare to be way past the reef and your motor won't start! He tries again. I'm holding my breath wondering if I'll make the plane tomorrow or be out to sea floating around. It sputters but starts. We inch along not daring to punch it for fear it will die. The plan was to take it to the marina to have it serviced while we are going home for a few days. Apparently it needs servicing! We inch along back to Pine Cay where we cross over the reef. WHEW!!! John punches it and it responds. All's well.
North Caicos in the back ground and a big hotel that never made it!

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