Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Best Dolphin T Day Ever

Hi All,
The day started again with our buddy calling us from Reef Peepers to say he was with a dolphin.
We went like the wind back up the coast from where we were looking around. There were two dolphins swimming along beside Reef Peepers. This and the broadcast over the radio created a bit of a dolphin traffic jam. However, as we patiently waited, they all went off on their on their respective tours. I then got to hop in the water and identify who was with JoJo. It was Raggedy Ann as we suspected. After a few swims she once again let me swim right behind her as JoJo took up his position following me.
We followed them again to the end of Pine Cay only this time it was earlier in the day. As we motored up past The Meridian Club which is the only resort on that island, the dolphins started to head toward the reef instead of into the channel between Fort George and Pine Cay. I was looking out toward the reef and saw at least one dorsal!!! This is what I thought was going to happen the day before when we ran out of day light amongst other things!
Soon all the dolphins met up as I knew they would. I couldn't wait to get in to see who had joined up. More than anything, I love to see how excited they get when they meet up. The dolphins weren't far from the boat and they were spy hoping. I believe they wanted me to join them. When I got in the water was murky as always in that area but I was able to see that there was a mother and calf. The mother acted as friendly as Bo, Lemon Lips Mom but she didn't have the little bit of white on the front of her dorsal. Raggedy Ann was stroking and playing flipper footsie with the  mother. They were so happy to see each other. JoJo was orchestrating the whole thing by leading me to them then backing off. The calf was acting a little like Lemon Lips swimming all over, circling and darting about. I was right in the middle of them!!! They didn't care who I was near or how close. They were fine with the calf visiting me even if they were off a little way. We all passed over some coral heads and there was a big Ballon fish swimming along the bottom. The dolphins all started to play with it like it was a soccer ball!! The calf was totally intrigued following it along the bottom with his rostrum nosing it along. I got laughing so hard I thought I'd choke. We all moved off a little way but they decided they wanted a little more fun and turned around and heckled the fish some more. I lost sight of everyone for a moment and went back to the boat. Just as I got there I saw them all again. They were so close but I missed them with the murk. This time the mom was upside down with both flippers stretched out. She was shaking a trunk fish that she had caught and the calf was getting very excited watching.
There were times I mistook Raggedy Ann for JoJo and she let me hang with her. It's such delightful confusion!
I lost sight of the dolphins and had to climb out,when Atebeyra a big sail boat pulled away from the beach where they were having a picnic and shell hunting. As soon as they left, the dolphins surfaced and I got back in. This time another boat came up to watch all the activity. I thought for sure when they put some swimmers in the water my fun would come to an end. However, JoJo once again taking care of his pod, swam right over to the boat. This seems to be his decoy device to take the attention off the others. The swimmers however were coming toward us. The dolphins circled back toward them then veered away just quickly enough to loose them, and there I was in this pod being led away from these swimmers without JoJo.  How cool is THAT.
I can't possibly think of a better way to spend thanksgiving than with a pod of dolphins who have been gracious enough to let me into their lives.

JoJo and Raggedy Ann

Hi All,
The front has finally passed leaving us with a perfect day, no rain, no big waves but with dolphins!!
With the help of the Captain of Reef Peepers, we found JoJo and Raggedy Ann out in front of Seven Stars. JoJo was friendly but as usual torn between swimming with Raggedy Ann who wasn't as friendly and swimming with me. He usually stays with me until she speeds up then leaves me behind. We stayed with them along the coast, with me getting the occasional swim until we got near Ocean Club, where we made a quick  trip to the beach to pick up some friends of ours, Karen and Bob. We luckily were able to find JoJO and Raggedy Ann again as they made their way leisurely toward Leeward then up to the end of Pine Cay.
There are many times I bring friends out and we can't find JoJo. This time however we were him most of the day and he put on a great show even if he was with Raggedy Ann.
Our friends watched as I got in and out, getting a few nice swims with JoJo and I explained that he dictates how we swim. For the first time he actually stayed behind me as I swam along figuring he wanted me to catch up to her. She came into view and seemed to be waiting for me to catch up. We then swam in formation with Raggedy Ann in the lead, me right behind her fluke and JoJo behind me!!
Later in the afternoon as we were approaching the end of Pine Cay, I saw a pretty big yacht and figured JoJo would have to go visit. Minutes later JoJo and Raggedy Ann showed up just as I predicted. There was a round floating raft with lots of people having a good time on it. As the dolphins got close the "rafters" all got very excited and started jumping in the water to see if they could swim with the famous JoJo. We brought our boat fairly close and I waited until JoJo came our way and climbed in. He came right to me and we headed back toward the yacht. He seemed to want me there but wasn't interested in swimming with the others, avoiding them when they got close.
I was, as always interested to see if there was going to be a meeting with other dolphins when we approached the cut but the sun was getting low on the horizon and everyone was ready to head back. Karen and Bob were very interested to have witnessed all this dolphin behavior and of course felt this was the high point of their vacation!
Happy Thanksgiving to All From me JoJo and all his friends!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mom And Calf

Hi All,
We saw the same small mom and calf that were in the pod of five from a few days ago. They were traveling at the end of Pine Cay. They were quite shy without JoJo as is often the case.
Meanwhile back at Ocean Club a Manta Ray was sighted traveling right along the beach!! I saw one many years ago taking the same route.
No JoJo!
I have written my second book about JoJo. It chronicles how our relationship has grown and lots of new adventures. There are many color photos mostly taken from my underwater videos. If you would like to purchase it go to Amazon and type in JoJo And Jay II. Hope you enjoy it!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Barn Owl

Hi All,
We might not have seen even one dolphin but we did see our first ever Barn Owl.
We were trying to escape some rain showers that just kept coming our way. We ended up near North Caicos and decided to motor around the marina, which is huge. There are canals that meander all through the mangroves. This marina was another Island project that never took off. There is dock space for many many boats but there are only a few boats that actually use it. I think the idea was for people to build homes along the canals and keep their boats out front.
We were poking along way back at the end of the marina and had just gone under a bridge and were flanked by mangroves on one side and a steep limestone bank on the other; when we saw this rather large Barn Owl. He was perched in a sort of cave that was made from parts of the limestone giving way leaving large indents in the bank. He flew off into another hollow then off to perch on a Casuarina tree all the while keeping an eye on us.
Apparently animals of the night like Barn Owls and bats seek refuge in these limestone caves during the day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Short Sighting

Hi All,
The last few days weren't filled with dolphins unfortunately. We saw JoJo briefly by himself. I thought maybe we'd have a great day with him but he was on a mission that didn't include me! When I got in he was echo locating. I know he's doing that by the way he swings his head from side to side. He then swam off fairly quickly and we lost sight of him.
We decided to see how the iguanas were doing. We have been feeding them raisons for years. A few days before they weren't in their usual place when I stopped off to clean their beach. So we decided to pay them another visit. This time there was a female and a male that came to greet us. They liked our raisons and managed to stuff parts of an apple in their mouths as well. Here is a video I took a few years before of an iguana war! you will see two males fighting and a short clip of a female coming to see what's up.
Later as we were motoring along I noticed a small fish with big bulging eyes chasing something as we got closer we could see a trunk fish right at the surface chasing a little crab!!
At that point we were near Turtle Cove and decided to snorkel at Smith's Reef where we saw an Eagle Ray and lots of Horse Eyed Jacks. Not as good as dolphins but still interesting!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

JoJo and The Pod

Hi All,
We found JoJo with a mom I don't know, a calf and two bigger dolphins that may be Lemon Lips and B.B.Tip. The waves were still big and the water very murky making identification hard. They seemed fine with me swimming along with them but I had a hard time seeing them even when I was right over them. John told me they all waited for me a few times but I just couldn't see them.
I'm wondering if one dolphin was Lemon Lips because there was still a slight yellow tinge to his lips! This dolphin wanted to come to me but didn't behave like Lemon Lips. Maybe because he's now a three year old he doesn't display the same behavior, circling me at speed zooming off and returning to circle me some more.
We witnessed a lot of spy hoping as we watched from the boat.  They either wanted to know whether we were still there or maybe the calf just wanted to look at us!
We were with them pretty much all day. Traveling from Grace Point to the opposite end of Pine Cay. There was one moment when the water was a bit clearer where they were all milling around me. It is worth spending all these hours following them for that one moment!
I hope today the water will settle which will help with clarity. I plan to wear my GoPro on my wrist for some filming in case the water is better and we find them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Front Still Here

Hi All,
Apparently this front is here for the week. There were rain showers through out the day as well as fairly big waves which makes dolphin watching tricky.
We went out in the afternoon after my pacing around the condo watching the rain showers come and go. We started the search going down toward Grace Point. We noticed a kite boarder waving on the beach and after determining he wasn't doing some sort of aerobic exercise we went over to see what he wanted. His buddy had lost his kite board somewhere out there! We took him(Joe) on board and hunted around but were unable to find it. I think the seas have claimed it! After dropping him off, we continued to Grace Point but no dorsals. On the way back I spotted two dolphins way out by the reef swimming at a good clip. As we motored up we were pretty sure one was JoJo but I couldn't find him when I got in. Between the waves and the murky water I was like Mr Magoo swimming around. We saw them once again heading toward Leeward but couldn't get close. We then noticed an Osprey land in the water with a HUGE fish! He kept raising his wings out of the water to perhaps dry them a little then try to fly maybe 5 feet before the fish weighed him down and he'd plop back into the water. After many attempts he finally gave up and left the huge fish to sink into the water as he flew to shore. We were really rooting him on but couldn't think of a way to help.
We saw maybe the same two dolphins fishing a little past Leeward but it was too wavy and they were swimming too fast for any interaction. We opted for a fast trip back to the marina with another rain storm at our heels.
Even though I didn't get any good interaction, I feel I know where he's headed at least toward the end of the day and this will help with finding him again. Now I'm hoping the two young dolphins, JoJo and Raggedy Ann join up and they will
let me swim with them. JoJo has been hanging with Raggedy Ann for at least three years that I'm aware of probably much longer. She usually doesn't want to swim with me unless Bo is around. JoJo is apt to come over briefly as if to say "Hi  I know you are here but I'm busy with Raggedy Ann". The other day was an exception, when I got to swim right between her and JoJo.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lumpy Water

Hi All,
A front moved in making the water very rough. We decided it was too rough out front and went back in the channel between Mangrove and Donna Cay to check out iguanas and do beach clean up. After spending most of the morning there we thought we'd drop off the trash and take a look out front in case it was better. As we approached Leeward two boat captains told us they'd seen dolphins out front. We took off in the direction we figured they'd be heading only to fight huge waves all the way to the end of Pine Cay and back. As we got back to Leeward I saw a dorsal. We found two young dolphins traveling together. I got in but they wouldn't let me close enough for identification. I'm thinking they might have been Lemon Lips and B.B. Tip. They would now be three years old and perhaps not with their moms. They may have also been on a mission and going back to meet their moms. In any case swimming with me wasn't in their plan!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Trip of the Season

Hi All,
We arrive on Tues. loaded down with two huge boxes containing one new scooter, one old repaired water scooter, huge duffel bags one containing 30 JoJo books which weighed as much as a giant rock collection. The airport guys are giving us well deserved nasty looks.
We immediately start hearing JoJo rumors; no owners have seen him, he was with three others but had been hit by a boat and wasn't interested in following boats any more. He is dead!!! I am out to prove most of that wrong!!
We head down to the Cabana Bar to grab a quick meal and we see lots of other Ocean Club owners. They are talking about movies and politics and all I want to do is ask if anyone has seen JoJo and think about the next day!!!
Later Andy and Denise, a horse friend from home drop by for a quick hello. look Our condo which looks like a tsunami hit it. Andy has moved here from Canada where he drove a grey hound bus for a living. He now lives in a gorgeous house in a posh area of Provo and manages a fancy Villa as well as being the Captain of one of the nicest, if not the nicest yachts on the island. We are trying to get organized to leave at the crack of dawn (my favorite time). He tells me he saw JoJo with a mom and newborn and an older dolphin in front of Leeward just a few days ago. He also said he thought JoJo sustained a major cut from a boat and was moving slowly.
I've now been up since 4 AM waiting to get out on the boat. The marina opens at 7:30 and we are there. As usual on the island no matter how many emails one sends asking to have the boat ready and assurances that it's sitting all gassed up and waiting, we find Catch Ride sitting on its trailer no where near the water! GRRRRRRRR. Everyone hustles around (actually in the Caribbean there is no real hustling!) and we finally get out on the water. It's beautiful and quite flat.
We cruise up and down Grace Bay to the end of Pine Cay and back all day. I'm so excited to see the boat captains we have become friends with, who give us the best greetings waving their arms and shouting "Welcome back!". We are especially happy to see Reef Peeper's Captain and Ariel's Captain who have been so helpful in finding JoJo in the past. They all give us the I don't know where he is sign. We have one lead when we get a call on our radio that there is a boat traffic jam between Little Iguana Cay and Half Moon Beach. We go like the wind to get there but no dolphins.
As we  head up Pine Cay for one more look, John sees a dorsal!!!! We see two adult dolphins but they are keeping their distance. We parallel them until we get close to the sand bar in front of Fort George Cay.
One dolphin comes closer to the back of our boat and we think it's JoJo, so I get in. He comes right over and it is JoJo!! I see a new scar or two but he looks pretty good to my relief. He's very friendly and brings me to the other dolphin who was Raggedy Ann. NO WONDER they stayed far away! This time however, I swam between both dolphins. She usually doesn't do that unless Bo is around. I get to free dive and go along the bottom next to JoJo. He then wanted me to swim behind Raggedy Ann and was swimming really close behind me.
A little later they started fishing and I'd say JoJo still can move right along!! I usually stay a little distance off so as not to interfere or get run into. There was quite a bit of boat traffic and we lost sight of them as they were making their way toward Parrot Cay.
 All is right with my world, as I sigh deeply knowing my friend is okay and still accepts me into his world.