Monday, January 27, 2014

Video from Whales and Dolphins

This is the calf my Go pro makes him look miles away he wasn't!! So fun!
These dolphins were spotted but it doesn't look that way from video. They were diving deep on my other side and on the other side of the boat there were so many the footage doesn't do it justice. You can however see how they didn't mind swimming right beside me!

Dolphins and Whales oh My

Hi All,
I really didn't think we would go out today due to the strong winds. However, the wind was coming from the East which is a good thing for us! It actually flattens the waves on the North West side of the Island.
As we were motoring around Grace Bay, we heard on our radio that some of the boats (Big Blue) were seeing whales. We motored to the cut at Parrot Cay and went out. After awhile, I saw a dorsal, then we looked and looked until we saw a spout. It appeared to be an older whale traveling alone. His dorsal appeared to have a lot of wear and tear. We followed along for awhile then started to head in. As we were turning, I saw a HUGE breach and then another. They were fairly far out. We hustled along and as we pulled up, we found a mother and calf. The calf was frolicking around and for sure was the one breaching. We then started to see lots of activity in the water. At first I didn't know what it was. It looked like a large fish feeding frenzy!! As we got closer, I realized there were many, many dolphins all surfacing around the whales and darting around everywhere.  There were so many dolphins it was amazing!! Even more than the other day!! I got in and found spotted dolphins who were very friendly. They let me swim right beside them. They were all over the place. I went back to the boat to get a camera knowing they could be gone in an instant. As I did, they started playing with the baby whale. I have always wanted to see this!! Actually John got to see more because I got back in the water and took footage of the dolphins. Eventually, I went around where John said the mother and calf were. I saw them in front of me and they sunk way down into the deep blue. All I could see was their pecs which are white. After awhile the calf decided I was interesting and came to take a look! At that point I didn't see the mom which was disconcerting! I have found however in the cetacean world at least from my experience, that moms seem to be okay with my swimming with their kids.
If that weren't enough we saw two more really big Humpbacks on our way back before we crossed over the reef. My guess is that they were two males. That made a total of five Humpback whales  for the day! Now this really is my last blog for at least a week!!

The Humpbacks are Here

Hi All,
As some of you may know this is the time of year the Humpbacks travel to the Caribbean to mate and have their calves. They are heading to three banks in the Caribbean where they all congregate. Turks and Caicos is on the way there. We see them come by any time from late Dec through March. Some people seem to think you see more from Gran Turk or Salt Cay but we have already seen three and heard of people on other boats seeing more.
Yesterday, we had a bit of a rough start when our engine alarm went off and the engine promptly shut down. Luckily, we weren't across the reef!! We were in the channel heading out from the marina and were able to crawl back. Only in the Caribbean could you find a great mechanic who would come out on a Sunday and fix your engine! Jill, who has taken over Mike's water sport program at Ocean Club so nicely came to our aid and gave me Elain's number and he fixed the problem. By this time it was late afternoon so, we took a quick look around in case JoJo was in the area. We then decided to head out past the reef. The water was very smooth with big rollers spaced way apart making it easy to see whales!! As I was scanning the water, I saw a nose sticking out! Then we saw a spout. He went down then came up right beside our boat!! He then moved off and we saw one more spout as he traveled down the coast on his way to the Silver Bank.
This morning as predicted is very windy which means we will probably bring our boat back to Caicos Marina where it will stay for the next week while we are home taking care of business.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

JoJo and Julia

Hi All,
The sun was shining but the seas were still up. We found the pod by Seven Stars first thing in the morning. JoJo and perhaps Raggedy Ann started toward the boat. Just as I was trying to get my GoPro situated on my wrist, they dove deep. We lost them for quite awhile in the big waves. Later we found JoJo and Julia. I would guess that Frisky and Raggedy Ann were off somewhere else. More than likely, JoJo was escorting Julia so she could fish while Raggedy Ann was babysitting Frisky.
JoJo tried numerous times to bring me to Julia who wanted no part of it! She was intent on fishing without any distractions from a slow human! We lost sight of them then found them numerous times during the morning. Eventually we decided to try outside the reef to see if the waves were boatable for Catch Ride.
We traveled up toward Pine Cay. As we went, the waves got rougher.  Just as we were hoping to turn in at the Parrot Cay Cut we saw a spout! It was a humpback whale. We stayed for awhile but it was too rough for John to get in. When we got to the Pine Cay cut the rollers were coming in through the cut were huge! We decided to go back to Leeward where the waves coming in weren't quite as huge.
In these video clips you'll see JoJo waiting for me then swimming off to catch up to Julia. In the second clip, you'll see JoJo having a snack (crater fishing) as he follow Julia.  She is way to the right and you can occasionally see her off to the side.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Gang

Hi All,
The waves were up and the skies were dark but we ventured out. We made our way past the big waves at Leeward heading down Turtle Cove; then checked out the water past the reef. Our little Whaler was no match for the big waves out there so, we turned back and headed back toward Grace Point, where we saw a boat stopped off the point. The tour boat had found a pod of dolphins. They  were the same four I've been swimming with all winter. I got in and after awhile got used to the big waves and found if my snorkel  filled up with water I could just blow it out!! JoJo was of course there to escort me to the pod. Raggedy Ann was gracious about hanging with me. Frisky was having great fun surfing the big waves! We were out in front of Seven Stars for a long time with all of them  swimming round checking out the ocean floor. A few tour boats came by. I got out while one stayed to take lots of pictures. John moved ahead of them after they had a good picture session.  I got back in and  stayed with them as they all were just traveling slowly along . JoJo was right at my elbow where he's been positioning himself lately. He had a new scrape on his left pec the one which is chopped off at the end.
We made our way down toward Ocean Club where I was hoping they would come near shore but Frisky found a really good wave to surf and they all took off with him. We couldn't find them for awhile.  We searched past Coral House and found them making their way toward Leeward. John and I watched them from the boat as they made there way out by the reef and headed in the direction   where the waves were really big. We lost sight of them in the big waves and decided to go in because 

it was rough and cold.

The video is of JoJo and Raggedy Ann in murky water. The pic is Julia and Frisky

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Cove

Hi All,
I'm sure you all have heard of the heinous things the Japanese are doing to the dolphins. Right now they have rounded up 250 dolphins and are about to either slaughter them or sell them to aquariums. This was sent to me regarding Yoko Ono's plea to help the dolphins.

Why this ad?

JoJo's Friends and or Family are Back

Hi All,

We spent all morning searching for dolphins or whales and couldn't find anyone. Then we saw a boat stopped outside of Leeward Cut. There were two dolphins. After the tour boat left them, I got in and both dolphins came right over. It was Julia and Frisky as I suspected. Frisky's cut in front of his left pec is all healed up leaving only a little mark. They swam under me for awhile then Julia came right at me, then they swam away. They stayed far from the boat so, I decided to wait in the boat and hope that they were planning to meet up with JoJo.
As I hoped, two other dorsals popped up in a matter of minutes. One headed right toward our boat. It of course was JoJo. I got in and he brought me back to the pod. Raggedy Ann was with them as I suspected.  The line up went JoJo, Raggedy Ann, Jay, Frisky and Julia. How cool is that!!
The first time they split up, I went with Julia and Frisky but they soon swam off and I had too go back to the boat. It was by the way very murky with only a few feet of visibility. I hung on the swim ladder (please don't do this!!) and John dragged me over to them again. JoJo again came up and brought me to the pod and this time I stayed with JoJo and Raggedy Ann when they started splitting up. They circled and circled under me as I circled above them, then off we went to join the others. With the water so murky, it's hard to see where everyone's going but it's sure fun to be in the middle of it. Later I again had to climb in the boat after loosing sight of everyone. John brought toward them again and I got in. I could only see one dolphin, Julia and she let me swim for a long time with her. Frisky had swum off somewhere and she was waiting for him to come back. When he arrived they went off on a mission and I returned to the boat. We left them and as we motored back I thought how lucky am I. Here I am swimming with my dolphin friends who have so generously let me into their lives while my friends and family are about to get hit with a snow storm and freezing weather.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fit The Criteria

Hi All,
I was hoping to see JoJo and we sure did! We found him at Coral Gardens and he seemed to want a ride so, John zoomed past him and he took his usual position at the back of the boat in our wake. The three criteria were met: he was traveling alone,we brought him in the right direction and our wake and speed was to his liking. He stayed with us until we were about to reach Leeward Cut where he branched off. He stayed near the boat and we dropped anchor.  I got in I swam with him for over an hour. He was very happy to have company and of course scratch on our anchor line.
 An Island Vibes boat came by to see the famous JoJo and dropped anchor.  JoJo went off to investigate with me following. He zeroed in on their nice thick anchor line that came off the front of the boat and started scratching. I said to the passengers "hop in he's in a friendly mood".  They got into the water and did get to see him briefly but he swam to the other side of the boat.  I went with him leaving them behind.
After coming around the back of the boat and heading toward a coral head, JoJo noticed a crew member who had swum off to do a little diving, more than likely looking for conch which they often do. JoJo checked out what he was doing, then we  headed back to Catch Ride. By this time a lot of tour boats had noticed the dolphin activity and came by with lots of people to "ooh" and "ahhh". JoJo kept following me :)) The tourists got a good chance for pictures because they all crowded around us creating the usual dolphin traffic jam. JoJo was happy to have with me with him as we went from boat to boat.
We eventually swam off toward Ocean Club with me in the lead. By this time John had taken up our anchor and was following along making sure no one ran over me! Once they all left, John motored over and dropped anchor and we hung for awhile. After some lazy swimming around perhaps with JoJo napping, he came to me looked right at me, then started off toward Club Med. I think he was telling me he wanted to get going. I climbed back in Catch Ride and we headed back down the coast with JoJo once again in tow.
This time he wanted to go past the channel to Turtle Cove and into the body of water beyond. Most boats don't go there because it's very shallow and has lots of coral heads. JoJo branched off and swam away from us. We decided he wanted some alone time, so we ate lunch and John went for a nice swim. After awhile, I want to see if we could find him again. I thought he might end up at the opening of Turtle Cove so we circled back in that direction. There was a sail boat anchored there and I figured JoJo would investigate. Sure enough, as we got to the boat, I saw his dorsal heading slowly right toward the opening of Turtle Cove. I said to John "I bet he goes in". He did!!  We had heard that he was sometimes seen in Turtle Cove but this was the first time we had seen him there. He went in to fish. I guess he likes Turtle Cove for lunch as much as we do!! After fishing all around the marina, he went around the little island near Tiki Hut where we so often see Ospreys and started out the channel.   We once again gave him a ride as he headed out. This time he wanted to go all the way back past Leeward and on to Pine Cay. Occasionally, he would branch off. I think he likes to take a break then waits for us to pick him up again. (We are trained!). During one of these breaks, I got in. He once again wanted me to lead. He followed along sometimes with his rostrum right at my elbow! Our wonderful day ended with JoJo going off to fish in the channel between Fort George Cay and Dellis Cay. It was getting late and we had a football game to watch!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Really Big Pod

Hi All,
We headed out of Leeward on a spectacularly beautiful day. Both John and I feeling much better after arriving on the island with the flu. I was really thinking today might be a whale sighting day. After traveling toward Turtle Cove and not seeing JoJo or any of his friends, we decided to go out through the cut where the big boats come in on their way to Turtle Cove. This is called Seller's Cut. Just as we went through the channel markers and passed into the deep blue water we saw a few dorsals. We found three friendly dolphins one with rake marks all along the length of his body. Some predator must have made them. They let me swim right along with them. After they pulled out in front, I climbed back in Catch Ride and as we pulled ahead, they followed the boat . Seeing they were coming along right behind us, I asked John to stop and  got back in again. After the bubbles cleared from our motor I could see them all right there as if waiting for me to  swim with them again. I was quite excited to finally swim with dolphins across the reef.
We came back in to pick up some friends who were hoping to see JoJo. The water was so perfect I thought we should go outside the reef again of course hoping to see a whale or more dolphins. We did see a whale but couldn't find it again after one blow and dive. It was still fun for them to be out in our little boat knowing there was a huge whale somewhere near!! We went back inside the reef and toured the beaches along Pine Cay. Our friends were feeling very hot and a little seasick so we headed back to Ocean Club and let them off at the beach. I'm not too superstitious but, it seems that every time we drop off some friends we have a GREAT adventure:)
We decided to go out again through Seller's Cut with hopes of seeing another whale or more dolphins. John spotted some activity way out and we motored out to see what was going on. There was a HUGE pod of dolphins!!  They were everywhere. I got into the water and was struck by how little I could see around me.  It was very deep and very dark. I got over the slight fear of looking down into the deep blue and seeing nothing by focusing on the dolphins. All was great!
There were at lease seven moms with young calves as well as many individuals.  The calves as always liked whizzing up to take a look at me, circling and then returning to their moms . Quite a few other dolphins came up to check me out as well. There was one dolphin with a severely cut dorsal, looking like it had been sliced into fingers at the top. There was one who had a damaged beak (dolphin nose). They gradually moved in closer to the reef much to my relief, where I could see the bottom. They didn't mind my coming along with them at all. I was able to keep up with the scooter as well as getting this footage without the scooter. We traveled all the way from Seller's Cut, past the Club Med cut and past the Leeward Cut to and area outside of Pine Cay. As we were coming along outside of Leeward there was a plastic bag in the water.  One of the calves went for it and poked it with his rostrum. A moment later, he passed me with it on his pec, it then dropped off and floated away. I would like to put a spin on this to say how bad plastic bags are but, in this case it looked more like he played with it like the Sargasso game from our friends inside the reef. By the time we got opposite Pine Cay, it was getting late, John was getting really hot and I kept getting cramps in my feet from so much flittering!! We'd been with the dolphins for almost four hours. It was time to call it a day - a GREAT day! We left them as they were making their way toward the end of Pine Cay.
Late that afternoon back at Ocean Club, we heard JoJo had been observing some swim lines being installed near Grace Point. Perhaps we'll spend tomorrow with Him!!!

JoJo Across The Reef

Hi All,
We have just returned to the Island. For the first two days, other than seeing a dolphin on the South Side which  we didn't recognize didn't see anyone. Yesterday, a boat captain told us JoJo was at Grace Point and we flew down the coast to see if we could find him. He was right in front of The Sands Resort. He seemed to want a ride but not any interaction, so I didn't get in with him. He got in our wake and we gave him a ride until he was opposite Ocean Club where he branched off toward the reef. We saw him surface one time before he vanished in the direction of the reef. We looked and looked then motored our way toward Leeward Cut figuring it was getting late in the day and maybe he was going toward Pine Cay. When we got there I asked John to go outside the reef thinking maybe he was meeting some friends there. We went out through Leeward Cut past the reef and turned back toward Ocean Club. After motoring a little way, three dolphins went at speed under our boat we don't know if JoJo was with them but I imagine he was.
I have only traveled with JoJo past the reef a few times but I suspect he goes out there more than I thought!
I had been told by a boat captain that JoJo hasn't been following boats any more. We have dispelled that rumor. However, there seems to be some criteria as to when he follows a boat: first he has to be alone since he won't want to leave his friends; second you have to be going where he wants to go and third he has to like your wake and speed.