Wednesday, February 24, 2016

JoJo's Send Off

Hi All,
It's down to our very last day. Thankfully the water is calm again as we head out on the JoJo loop. Kristen my daughter is with us and another friend. They both keep mentioning how much they'd like to swim with JoJo. We start heading out Sellers Cut to check to see if there are any whales. Just as we pass the buoys marking the entrance to the cut, John sees JoJo. He's coming up from behind quickly to catch up with our boat. We are pretty sure he doesn't want to go past the reef so we turn around and head back down Grace Bay with him in our wake. It's now 9:30. We have traveled the entire length of Grace Bay, past Little Water Cay, Big Water Cay and are on our way past Pine Cay.
He branches off and I get in to see if he's up for a swim. He is but only if you can keep up! We lose him and head off to the reef to check out a whale we heard was outside the reef. Luckily in my opinion we didn't find the whale and come back to see if JoJo is still around. I'm pretty sure he'll be there. He is on the shallow bank between Fort George and Dellis Cay and appears to be in sleep mode. He's slowly swimming back and forth making a diagonal pattern in from of our boat. As he comes out of sleep mode, he makes a fishing dive and is off into the channel for a long fish. He doesn't crater fish here. He's after fish that are going through the channel. When he surfaces he makes loud puffs from the exertion of rocketing after them. He goes clear out the other end of the channel onto the South Side . We see a fisherman who is catching some large fish. I hope JoJo is doing the same. It is drop dead gorgeous in this channel with the water twinkling on this bright sunny day. Occasionally, we see a flock of Sand Pipers fly by going about their busy lives. Once JoJo has had his fill, he joins us again, coming up behind the boat and we head off toward Grace Bay. He wants to go past Grace Bay, past Smith Reef and into Crystal Bay. Perhaps he doesn't want this day to end either! The girls are really wanting to swim with him. So far the time hasn't been right. I figure when we get almost to Northwest Point we will get our opportunity!
He likes to scratch in the coral on the many coral heads before he usually wants to head back to Grace Bay.
John stops the boat right near a reef and we get in.

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JoJo's Send off Feb 23,2016

The beginning of video shows my first swim with him at Pine cay then on to Crystal Bay.

 We have a great long swim with JoJo scratching on the anchor line and visiting my daughter and Abby our guest. As we get in the boat I explain how JoJo has many modes and I've learned to read them. Sometimes I may wait a long time to get a great swim with him because he's busy with other missions. It's all up to him and I honor that. I feel that's why we have this relationship. Most people want instant gratification I however am interested in everything I can learn about his life and family. Our guests feel the same way and have throughly enjoyed witnessing a day in the life of a bottlenose dolphin.He now wants to head  back to Grace Bay. It is now 5:30 and we need to take our boat back to Caicos Marina where we pull it out of the water until November. Luckily he branches off at 7 stars so he leaves us instead of us leaving him. This is a sad day for me. I expect JoJo will be listening for our boat and sad as well that we aren't there to taxi him around and swim with him. This season he has introduced me to 4 new dolphins, Sponge Bob being the most memorable. He showed me how he travels into territory I hadn't seen him in. I once again thank him very much for letting me into his life. I now have to worry that he's ok until November.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

JoJo encountering two nurse sharks while having brunch

Hi All,
The wind is gusting 20 knots and out of the Northeast. This is terrible for boating because the wind is now coming straight down the island making it rough out front and on the South side. We have guests on board so going to visit iguanas and snorkel in the channels seems like a good idea. We anchor by Donna Cay and sneak onto the island (you aren't supposed to go there). I do a great deal of trash pick up as we are looking for iguanas but can't find even one! We get back on Spy Hop and decide to snorkel in the mangroves. It is a nursery for lots of juvenile fish. They are all winding in and out of the mangrove shoots. There is an occasional barracuda lurking about occasionally darting in  to snatch one. As we climb back onto Spy Hop, I notice movement on the island. A female iguana has come down to see who's there. Pretty soon we have three hungry iguanas looking expectantly onto the boat for raisins, which we happily provide.
Time to check if the sea is passable on the North side. Not too bad! We start our usual loop and as we get back to Leeward I feel we should continue toward Pine Cay. I have a feeling JoJo will be around today. We haven't seen him for a few days. Soon a dorsal appears coming right at our boat. JoJo flips over as always giving me a fright as he slides under the boat upside down. We turn around and bring him back in the direction he wants. He keeps branching off once we get to Grace Bay, so Kristen and I get in to see if he wants company. He takes a good look at Kristen before heading slowly off to crater fish. The wind has whipped the waves up so much the bottom looks like clouds rolling in! No wonder it can get so murky with a strong wind. None of this bothers JoJo as he pokes along grabbing some little fish along the bottom. He is echo-locating the whole time. You can see his head going back and forth in the video. I see a dark shape approaching. It's a nurse shark that is swimming along and JoJo goes to inspect. In his youth he would torment it by goosing it with his rostrum. Rumor has it he used to herd nurse sharks into groups of divers to watch the pandemonium that ensued. I totally believe it. JoJo has a good sense of humor. Now we have swum into an area where the waves are huge. They are pushing me along. I rather like feeling a little like a dolphin surfing the waves. JoJo notices there is an another swimmer that has gotten off our boat. He goes over to inspect Jeremie who is respectively watching and not swimming like a mad person to come look at him. After checking out both Kristen and Jeremie, we are off for more fishing and encounter another nurse shark! We eventually climb back in Spy Hop to find everything sopping wet. Apparently one of those huge waves broke over the bow leaving everything drenched. Time to go in and dry everything out!

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JoJo Encounters a Nurse Shark or two while Crater Fishing

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JoJo from Kristen's perspective

Friday, February 19, 2016

More Whizzer!!!!!

Hi All,
We know the weather is supposed to kick up today so an early start is key. My boat is filled with friends so the pressure is on to see cetaceans. Everyone wants to see JoJo. After our usual JoJo loop, we head out past the reef to check for whales. As we are dropping the hydrophone in, we get a call from a boat Captain. He is at Leeward and there are dolphins. We coil up the hydrophone cord and John goes full speed ahead outside the reef to the Leeward cut. Once inside we find the two ladies and Whizzer. I'm so so so happy to see him with only a few days left of our trip. My passengers are delighted to see him play with me.
<iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="">More Whizzer Feb 18th 2016</a> from <a href="">Jay Sargent</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

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More Whizzer Feb 18th 2016
This video is a bit long but I just couldn't cut any more. I always hope one of these calves will be like JoJo when they grow up and he sure has the makings!
We follow them again down Pine Cay then decide to go across the reef. It's still flat but there is a huge black cloud heading our way.We see a tour boat way past the reef. John keeps his eye on it and it pays off. A whale blows right in front of it.The rains approaching at a furious pace and we decide to head in for a quick lunch and return when the rain has passed. We head out after lunch and go to the same area. The whale is still there! Kristen, John and our guests get in while I drive the boat, (someone has    to!) They swim along with a whale who is young, probably two to three years old. It's big (35' - 40') but will eventually grow to almost 55'. It looks like the same whale lie swam with yesterday. They are with him for a fabulous 45 mins before he sinks into the depths and slowly swims off.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hit The Trifecta

Hi All,
Underground weather has been predicting all week for today to be a perfect day. I've been really looking forward to a sunny day with flat water. As we head out of Leeward, it's perfect. The sea is flat and sparkling. It's so calm we can see turtle heads almost to the reef, popping up for a quick gulp of air before heading down. I have this wonderful feeling of exhilaration and anticipation that an exquisite Turks and Caicos day brings.
We make our JoJo rounds but fail to see his familiar dorsal. As we are finishing the loop which brings us back to Leeward we see boats acting like they may be with dolphins. People are hanging out and pointing into the water. There are three dolphins slowly starting to head past Leeward. My heart is literally pounding. Please may it be Whizzer. As soon as I get in he swims over. I get a great greeting with much circling and whistling. He is with Bo, his Mom and Raggedy Ann his aunt. They seem glad to have me there or at least I'd like to think so. We stay with them all the way to the far end of Pine Cay. When I wasn't in the water with Whizzer, he would circle the boat as well as other boats that came by to see him. For a while all three dolphins were bow riding.

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Whizzer Bo and RA Feb. 2016
I had been hoping JoJo would meet up with the dolphins. Raggedy Ann is his favorite lady dolphin, but he didn't show. We decide we should make use of this magnificent water and go past the reef to see what we can find. We head out and I notice the "Magnificent Frigate" birds are soaring way above us. We saw them a few days ago and I'm sure it's the same juvenile and male. The flying fish are rocketing out of the water like little fighter planes (Turks and Caicos air force!). Soon I see a dorsal. Then more. Then lots of dorsals! How lucky are we! There are Spotted Dolphins everywhere; leaping, surfing our wake and frolicking all around the boat. Kristen and I slip in. They greet us enthusiastically as only Spotted Dolphins can do! We decide this is not the same pod from the other day. The pair who had been so friendly weren't there. This group seemed to be having more feuds amongst themselves where the others were more peaceful. Maybe there were more juvenile males. At one point a group of about 6 came rocketing by me. I could hear what is called a burst pulse. I could also feel it. It sounded like a loud clicking and I could feel a vibration through my body. I'm not sure if it was aimed at me or I if I was so close I could feel it.

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Spotted Dolphins outside of Pine Cay
The dolphins move on and we climb back in Spy Hop. I mention to Kristen and our guest Melanie that in all the years I've been looking for pods of dolphins outside the reef this year is the first I've ever found them repeatedly and how lucky were they to be in on it!
We decide to keep heading toward Northwest Point putting the hydrophone in occasionally to see if we can hear a whale. Just as we pull the hydrophone up and decide there aren't any whales in the area one surfaces right in front of us! He then starts to do numerous small breaches and climaxes in a full breach. We motor over and turn off the engine and he heads toward us. He then stays near the surface allowing John and Kristen to climb in and have a long swim with this young whale. Apparently he is a silent one or at least is silent today. After they climbed out I also slipped in and got to watch this magnificent cetacean hanging quietly in the water.
I'm sorry for the lack of video but I had a truly bad camera day!

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IMG_8551 courtesy of Melanie who brought her cell phone out

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Found The Spotted Dolphins!!

Hi All,
I don't like to gripe about the weather here when it's below zero at home but it hasn't been good now for a number of days. Very unlike Turks, where usually within a day or two the sun will be shining. In any case, the day is starting out with flat water so grey skies or not we are going to take advantage.
After a quick look for JoJo we head out over the reef eager to try a new fancy hydrophone that I just purchased on the advice from Lian, whale expert. As soon as we put it in we hear far off whale chatting. I also hear dolphin whistling a noise I know well. We  can't see either but start searching around. Once again I see a tern  and start watching to see if there is activity below it. I see a dorsal and then three others. Kristen my daughter and I hustle around the boat getting on our gear before they swim off. We slip in to swim with the three dolphins who eagerly greet us; then there are 5 then there are 6 pretty soon they are everywhere swimming all around us.
Spotted Dolphins and Shark
We notice that two dolphins in particular seem to want to stay right with us. The picture here is perhaps the mother. She has a little notch out of the lower back of her dorsal. You will see perhaps her calf in the next video, as well as under her in this picture. Spotted dolphins have more spots as they age.
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My Specail Spotted Dolphin Friends

Kristen and I also notice a shark who is swimming along under the dolphins and us. 

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Shark Checking Out Spotted Dolphins and Us
During the time we were gleefully swimming with our dolphin friends the wind kicked up. After getting on Spy Hop we decide to head back across the reef to calmer water. We don't actually find any calm water on Grace Bay so we head out across the South Side to French Cay to look for whales.
After looking around and not seeing any spouts or hearing any chatter from our hydrophone. John and Kristen decided go for a snorkel and I stay on the boat watching for spouts. Just as they find  two large angel fish, I see a HUGE splash and start yelling for them to get back on the boat! Off we go in pursuit of whoever created the big splash. Of course when we get in the vicinity there is nothing happening. Eventually we do find the whales who are moving fairly rapidly. However we can see rain closing in from all sides and decide to head back. As we are leaving I'm watching out the back of the boat and see spouts and dorsals . Apparently they decided to stick around. If only the rain clouds weren't descending from all sides we would have too!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pod of Bottlenose Dolphins at French Cay

Hi All,
Apparently there is a big front coming toward Turks and Caicos. The big waves and high water has already hit, the rest is due to arrive on Friday and Saturday.
I have a guest here from home who would of course really like to see JoJo. She has swum with him before from my first boat Catch Ride. She went off to look at the water in front of Ocean Club and came back to report monster waves and water coming up the steps to the Cabana Bar.  We eat the majority of our meals overlooking the water at the Cabana Bar.
The water is still however pretty flat out the South Side so we head out hoping to find Sponge Bob. It appears we need JoJo's help however because we don't see any dorsals all the way to French Cay.
As we approach the island which is a bird sanctuary a Frigate bird soars high above us. From the white on his breast, he appears to be a juvenile.  Soon we are seeing Brown Noddys and terns also soaring over head in search of food. These are all pelagic birds who are here only to have their babies before they head back over the ocean where they spend their lives.
I notice a dive boat slowing down as it is leaving French Cay then circling. Sure sign they have spotted something. We head over to find what looks like five or six dolphins. When I get in I find more like 12 dolphins.
Eventually the pod moves off and I get into the boat. We come across another pod which are probably part of the big pod. This smaller group has two mothers and calves and one adult maybe an aunt traveling together. The two calves came right toward our boat and I get in. They are curious but  return to their mothers after looking at me.
With any luck we will be able to go out again tomorrow but for sure only on the South Side. I need JoJo my guide to find his friends but it will be to rough to go to our meeting place.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sponge Bob and 3 More!!

Hi All,
The water is flat as we come out of Leeward. I have a friend, Trisha from home on board the morning. She has been a JoJo fan since she saw him from our boat years ago. We see a can floating in the water (trash) ask John heads over so we can take remove it from the otherwise gorgeous turquoise water. Just as we get there, JoJo pops up. Sound familiar?  Once again, he wants us to bring him to the South Side. Trisha gets an opportunity to see how JoJo lets us know where he'd like to go. Once we clear Leeward Channel and start heading toward the wreck that lies out on the South Side, JoJo starts swimming to the side of the wake on his side. I see dolphins do this when they are swimming along the bottom echolocating in search of fish. I assume he is echolocating to find dolphins. He branches off before we get to the wreck and swims around slowly. Not long after, dolphins start arriving. There are three. I get in hoping they are dolphins I know. They take a brief look at me and continue on. JoJo makes several attempts to bring me closer to them. They aren't very interested in me. This is only speculation but I would guess they are juvenile females.
 After a good hour of visiting with them JoJo moves off alone heading south. He gets in our wake and we take him until he branches off again. He then seems to want to swim around the boat maybe catching a quick nap. I get in thinking this would be a perfect time for Trisha to get in. But before she can get her gear on JoJo heads south. I climb back in the boat and see a dorsal in the distance. He is making his way to another dolphin!  Once they greet each other, I get in to find Sponge Bob. He appears happy to see me. He comes much closer than the first time I met him. When you watch the video look for a barracuda that was opening and closing his jaws in what I thought was a threatening sort of way. JoJo appears and comes around me. I don't know if he was protecting me but it appears that way and I appreciate it! S. Bob attacks one sponge and it looks like the sand! He wasn't crater fishing he was just smooshing his rostrum into the sand! He seemed to be showing off as he whirled and dove around me.

I don't know what JoJo's plan is but I'm sure he has one. Does he want me to meet the future generations of his family? Does he want them to meet me? There has been a progression in our friendship over the years. First magical swims. After about 5 years he started introducing me to mothers and calves but only on Grace Bay. Now he's letting me in on dolphins on the South Side. I think of JoJo as "Rabbit" in Winnie The Pooh. Rabbit kept track of all his friends and relations.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It's Show Time

Hi All,
Can't wait to see JoJo after a few days off Island! I'm hoping to see some others as well. We have friends that have gone out on Big Blue and they are dying to see JoJo. My mission is to find him and hail them! We find him after our first pass down Grace Bay. We did radio Big Blue and our friends got a chance to have a brief swim with JoJo.  In the middle of the day, after going to Parrot Cay and back, he was milling around. I was hoping it was because he wanted to meet someone. It was! Raggedy Ann showed up in front of Coral House and joined JoJo on the way to Leeward. At one point they came together then split up. JoJo opted for a ride from us to Pine Cay and Raggedy Ann went off on her own.  JoJo stayed with us all day. He must have missed his taxi service! Hope you like the video. You'll notice his cuts are healing quite well.  I also videoed a typical tour boat meeting!