Saturday, March 31, 2018
Hi All, The front has finally passed leaving churned up water and fairly rough water. As we travel past Grace Point I start seeing Laughing Gulls. This is the first we have seen of them this season. They are flying all around the boats picking the perfect spot land.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Hi All, This morning a boat Captain calls over the radio "JoJo and his family are at Big Water Cay". We race back from where we are with high hopes that JoJo is with many dolphins. Usually when this happens and we are pretty far away, they have moved on by the time we get there and we don't know which way to go! This morning is no different! However Big Water Cay has some nice cliffs which are attracting the Tropic Birds so despite the lack of dolphins we got to see more arial displays. Back to our original search. I see a dorsal in the very opaque water between Coral House and Leeward. When I get in I notice again that JoJo is opening his mouth. I decide to climb out and hope they travel to clear water. Out by the reef opposite Coral House is gorgeous crystal clear water and they head that way. Some tour boats see us with them and motor up. This again gives me plenty of time with Snipper who isn't interested in the boats especially when they put swimmers in. JoJo visits for a while then when I'm least suspecting it, he sneaks up on me! Seven feet of big dolphin swimming behind you and suddenly appearing by your side is quite something! I know he loves this game of sneak up on Jay and plays it numerous times in between entertaining tour boats. JoJo and Snipper love to roll in the soft sand by the reef. Both dolphins do some crater fishing and catch some little jaw fish that live in holes in the sand. JoJo catches about three fish then his mouth really bothers him. I saw him shake his head and open his mouth really wide. I wonder if he hit the spot that's bothering him? I really wish I could help him but I can't see exactly the problem. Whatever it is JoJo is feeling good enough to take numerous rides in the wake behind different boats. Snipper is left on his own as JoJo goes up and down the coast behind various boats. Maybe this takes his mind of his mouth or maybe it's a way to police his territory with the least amount of effort.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Hi All, The wind has shifted to the East making boating on the North side nice again. Unfortunately the blow that came through for the last few days left the water very murky in most places. We are heading out with David and Emily his wife who are hoping to see JoJo. We pass out the channel and I'm relieved to see fairly flat water. After making the usual tour of Grace Bay, we head up to Pine Cay. I hear a distinctive bird call and look up to see a Tropic Bird soaring high in the air. It's magnificent tail stretched out behind, glimmering white against the blue sky. We are all watching as more birds join in until there are eight Tropic Birds all soaring above us. What a great way to start the day!
Friday, March 23, 2018
Hi All, What a day! The sun's streaming down and the water is flat and in most places clear. There's barely a boat left in the marina. Everyone's out enjoying this magnificent day. There is a call for 30% rain later in the afternoon but it's spectacular now. The quandary, do we go out past the reef and look for Spotted Dolphins or stay inside the reef and look for JoJo and his friends? I'm down to my last week on island and I want to see the dolphins I know as much as possible. That decides it. As we head past Ocean Club on our pass back to Leeward both John and I spot a dorsal. It's Snipper heading toward Leeward. I get in and get a swim-by through the crystal clear water. It woud be a great day to film on a reef with Snipper but it's not to be. I'm back in Spy Hop as we follow Snipper who's traveling fairly fast toward Leeward. I feel a little guilty at what happen next. The boat captains all know that if we are traveling slowly or stopped, there is a dolphin with us. Because everyone travels in and out of Leeward there are many of boats coming and going. Snipper who is just trying to make his way across the channel gets surrounded by tour boats. At least 15 boats stop by to let their passengers see him. Some are respectful and stop a good distance from him, leaving him the choice of going to their boat or not like JoJo. Others not only ran up to him but right over him and won't leave him alone even after he makes it clear he isn't interested by trying to swim away. When the water is murky it's easy for the dolphins to disappear but today with the clear water Snipper doesn't have a chance. Finally they all go on to whatever activities they had planned. Snipper makes his way across the channel and over a patch of reef and disappears. We head to Pine Cay where we figure he is going. We pass Norm and his wife who are stopped along the cliffs of Pine Cay. They are hoping to see the Tropic birds. We told them about the Tropic bird we saw way out past the reef floating in the water with her long tail cocked up behind her so it wouldn't get wet. Norm is an avid bird watcher and great bird photographer. Once we motor past The Meridian Club John stops and after a brief swim we dove into our lunch. It was short lived when I see a dorsal not far off, then another dorsal in the distance. A boat comes by and one of the dolphins get in the wake clearly that was JoJo. I figure he'll be back because he won't want to leave the other dolphin. I get in and find Bo chasing a trunk fish around. She likes to play with them but doesn't eat them. Pretty soon she starts heading off at a good clip and I get back in our boat. Now I see a third dolphin heading toward her. Snipper has made his way there and both are heading right for the swim area near the Meridian Club. Whenever I see big dives where they propel themselves down I know they are fishing. As we get closer we see one dolphin right near the buoy. JoJo has come back and joined them. I get in and see schools of fish swimming by. No wonder they were heading this way! JoJo seems more interested in the buoy. There's a lot of marine life clinging to the buoy including clams. He sonars it as he hangs vertically. He swims off and makes it clear he wants a ride by swimming out in front of our boat in the direction he wants to go. I find it strange that he wants to leave them but we drive by and he gets in our wake. I'd rather not leave the others but they are darting all over fishing and don't need a slow human tagging along. By the time we take JoJo way far in the other direction past Beaches Resort, the 30% chance of rain is heading our way! We manage to take him back toward Leeward where he branches off and we avoid the rain that is fast approaching.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Hi All, JoJo made full use of his Uber rides this morning! We see him at Grace Point, he swims past us and takes a long ride with Dream Aweigh II, a large catamaran motor boat. We follow them as they go back to Leeward into the channel, turn around and out toward the reef. JoJo decides he'd rather go back toward Grace Point and switches to our boat! He then follows us up and down the coast to Pine Cay and back. He doesn't stop for any leisurely swims with his friend Jay! Typically when he does this, he's looking for another dolphin and is more than happy to swim with me once he finds his friend. Just as we come to Half Moon Beach, Bo suddenly appears and swims up to our boat. I get in and get a great pay off for all those trips up and down the coast by swimming with them both. JoJo keeps coming up to me. He seems agitated about something regarding his mouth. He keeps opening and shutting it. The last time this happened Mark, the island vet, told me he may have a fish bone stuck in his gum. As I'm looking at JoJo I notice a small fish that keeps swimming right by his side. JoJo rolls in the sand but the little guy stayed very close. Boats start coming up and people get in the water. Bo immediately swims away and I go with her while JoJo does a brief swim-by and comes right back. With no dolphins very close, the people climb out of the water and the boats leave. I have noticed before that JoJo goes to Bo's fluke area and seems to be checking it out. I think he's sonaring to see her status. Is she in estrous? Is she pregnant? Bo also behaves the way she has before when she doesn't want JoJo too close. There's no stroking, flipper footsie or hanky panky. She even lies still on the bottom like I saw her do once before. I'm not sure what that means but it happened when JoJo was around and there wasn't any affectionate interaction that day either. JoJo takes off after a fish and I don't see him for a while. Bo who usually doesn't like me around when she fishes was fine with me watching this time. She whizzes off after a few fish and catches them. I see her use her rostrum to move a chunk of coral to find a fish hiding under it. She catches one rather chubby fish and shakes it violently. I'm not sure why. Dolphins don't chew their food. they swallow fish whole head first. Perhaps she was incapcitating the fish before she turned it around to swallow. I have gotten some great time with no boats to disrupt my time with Bo but now boats are starting to see we have a dolphin with our boat. John tries to tell people that it's up to them but she probably won't swim with them. Some of them try and as predicted she swims away. JoJo will usually do a swim-by if people get in but Bo would rather not! Now we are surrounded by boats and one boat has dogs barking wildly because they can hear the dolphins and sometimes get to swim with them. I watch Bo as she blows a what I think is a warning bubble and swims off. She has done that before when surrounded by tour boats. JoJo is enjoying the boat traffic this time entertaining each of them.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Hi All, Everyday I wonder who I'll find and who will be traveling with whom. Yesterday I left JoJo and Snipper pretty early in the day. I wonder if JoJo minded that. John and I are sitting at the far end of Pine Cay enjoying the sun. I'm snoozing in between looking for dorsals. There's no better place for a snooze than on the water, with the sun beating down and Spy Hop gently rocking in the waves. No one seems to be around so we head back past the Meridian Club when we notice these weird little boats circling around. They are one man boats that look like sit down lawn motors in the water! Of course the dolphins want to check them out! We motor up and see Snipper's dorsal and figure JoJo's with him. Once I get in the REALLY murky water, I see the other fluke and it's not JoJo's. Eventually I get a look at the dolphins side and see blemish below the dorsal on the left side. Its Bo! The water is seriouly murky and I have to look on the surface and hope to see a dorsal to figure out where they are. Snipper is in a playful mood and keeps surfacing right beside me. I'm looking all over knowing he's somewhere and he pops up right beside me! This game goes on for a long time! I think he's totally aware I can't see anything and wants my company! Both dolphins are staying with me despite my losing sight of them every time they dive. How lucky am I to have these amazing dolphins popping up all around me and wanting me to accompany them as they slowly make their way toward Leeward. I go through three scooters as we travel to Leeward. I have to get out a few times so I can warm up and rest. The water starts to clear up in spots as we get to Leeward. There are so many tour boats coming by to see the dolphins but the dolpins really aren't interested. They are milling around Leeward maybe waiting for JoJo to join them. I decide it's time to go in. My scooters are dead and my legs are cramping up from all the swimming! What a great day: to have Snipper and Bo want my company.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Hi All Finally a great water day! As we come out of Leeward, I don't know which way to go; it's perfect past the reef and perfect up and down the coast. Maybe there's one last whale that hasn't made his way past the island on his way to the Silver Bank. We go past the reef and drop our hydrophone to check. Not a peep! I decide going back to find JoJo and see if Lemon Lips is with him this morning is the way to go. We turn around and head in. I see glistening specks coming our way. The sun's catching two dorsals as they make their way through Leeward Channel. As we motor up I see JoJo's distinctive dorsal and Snippers even more distinctive dorsal. I get in and have a long leisurely swim with them as they make their way toward the resorts. Their route lately seems to head toward Seven Stars turn around and head back. Tour boats start seeing us and come to see JoJo. The dolphins aren't one bit interested in greeting this morning. They aren't fishing, playing or interacting with boats. They are just happy to swim along peacefully in no apparent hurry. We have David with us, who's dying to get in with JoJo. I tell him if Snipper gets a little ahead, he should climb in and maybe JoJo will look at his camera. This has worked for Nic and Ted. As predicted JoJo stops to check out the Go Pro on a stick then swims back to me and we head off to find Snipper. Having a seven foot dolphin come look at you is pretty terrific even if he didn't choose to swim with you. The dolphins head out toward the reef and mill around. The water is so inviting past the reef and there is a cut right in front of us. I decide we should leave our friends and see what's out past the reef. I of course have visions of whales, perhaps new whales we haven't seen before and spotted dolphins whirling around my head! David has in the mean time found on his phone a picture of what we think we saw the other day, a Cuvier Beaked Whale. It's head is white and with age more of his body turns white. He has a small dorsal located fairly far back on his body which is exactly what we saw. Mystery solved! Apparently, they can dive really deep and not surface to breath for three hours! This makes it hard to study them. We were so lucky to see one. We head to Northwest Point and drop in the hydrophone. There is only the swishing of water and crackling of shrimp. I want to go back to where we saw the Cuvier Whale. So we head in the opposite direction toward Parrot Cay. I'm so loving the flat glistening water with welcomed sunshine beating down. It's the middle of the day and we stop for lunch hoping to see some activity as we float in this vast ocean. There isn't even a bait ball. Nothing broke the surface of this magnificent flat sea. After finishing our usual P,B and J and tuna fish we are off toward Parrot Cay. Just as I spot the ritzy Parrot Cay Inn in the distance, I see some splashing as a pod of Spotted dolphins heads toward our boat. John entertains them driving in circles and they join us riding the bow wave and surfing the wake. We see some very tiny calves also riding the bow wave. Yikes! Sort of like kids playing in traffic but they are so adept even at a young age they have great fun and don't get hurt. David and I get in and have some fun swimming with our new friends. Once we leave them the sky is starting to cloud up and I'm determined not to get soaked like yesterday so we head in.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Hi All, The past few days have been difficult for boating with a big swell coming from up North. We are happy to finally be out on Grace bay without bouncing all over! After not finding JoJo in front of the resorts, we head to Pine Cay. I have been hoping everyday that I would see the Tropic Birds coming to the cliffs of Pine Cay and Fort George Cay to nest and have their chicks. Tropic birds are pelegic and only come to shore in spring to have their babies. Today we see lots of beautiful Tropic Birds flying over the cliffs surveying where they want to make their nests.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Hi All, There is lots of activity on the dock everyone knows the wind is down and it will be a good day. The captains and crew are hustling around preparing their boats. There are mounds of food and rum punch being loaded. There is much excitement in the air and everyone is discussing where they are going. They want to know if we are finding JoJo or whales. There's a procession of tour boats leaving the marina hoping for adventure! Ted and Suz our friends join us at 8:15 sharp with their lunch, cameras and snorkel gear. We head to North West Point with visions of whales and dolphins whirling around in our heads! I see some activity on the horizon before we even get there. A pod of Spotted dolphins are porpoising out of the water. One high jumper is a good 10 feet off the surface! I'm hustling around to get flippers and camera for a quick entrance as John entertains them by whizzing around in circles as they bow ride and porpoise in our wake. As John slows down, I hop into the deep dark blue water. Immediately two dolphins come over to greet me. For some reason there always seems to be a mother and calf that want to play with me. They circle wildly as if staking me out as their toys! There are other dolphins around but these two have laid claim! I play with them for a half hour then figure we should get on with our whale search and return to the boat. I see the mother come back wanting her human toy to stay a little longer. As I climb on board, I'm told the rest of the pod had moved on leaving my friends behind.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Hi All, We got out of New England in the nick of time! There's another Nor'Easter heading their way! So great to be in Provo! We gather all our equipment and head to the marina. I bought yet another water scooter and brought back the scooter with the repaired on/off switch. The trick is usually getting through security with a lithium battery. This time however John sailed right through with the battery and a small knife he forgot he packed! I however was pulled aside for a box of raisins! Go Figure! The weather is great especially knowing what's about to happen at home. I'm eager to see JoJo I figure all his cuts and the puncture wound are healed. The important thing is if he can open his mouth wide enough to fish. It was pure luck! I spotted the dolphins quite near the reef along Pine Cay. There is a huge tanker that I am watching just outside the reef. They aren't usually in this area. As I'm looking to see how massive this ship is, I see a black speck which turns out to be a dorsal. We head toward the speck and JoJo and Snipper appear. I got into the very murky water and got a nice JoJo greeting. He seemed quite interested in the new scooter which makes a slightly different noise than the old one.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Hi all, Spectacular day on the water! With almost no wind the conditions are spectacular for anything on the water. Knowing this was the forecast, we had invited David along with hopes of more whale encounters. Whenever it's this great we head to Northwest Point. We are rewarded with two whales. I thought I heard something as we are watching them spout them dive. I asked John to turn off the motor and we could hear them vocalizing right through the boat! As soon as David and John got in the water, the vocalizations stopped. They didn't see the whales. As soon as they got on the boat, the vocalizations started up! David put his Go Pro down for evidence!
Friday, March 2, 2018
Hi All, As predicted, the wind is down and we are out at day break. A King Fisher flies over the channel as we pass by Mrs Osprey who's eating her fish breakfast. All good omens! There are waves coming out of Leeward Channel hmmm. We go past the channel markers and there are big rolling swells that make large waves on the reef. When Spy Hop climbs to the top of a swell we can see way out on the ocean. My favorite kind of day! No chop, no bouncing, no splashing just gentle swells a perfect day for cetacean viewing! We drop the hydrophone in at Northwest Point and feel like we are on the whale thoroughfare. We look and look don't see a spout but, we know they are around! Off to West Caicos with the gentle swells gently pushing us along. We see a Coast Guard Helicopter flying along and John kiddingly goes on the radio and asks if they have seen any whales. They come back with coordinates fairly far out to sea! We go to the location indicated but don't see any spouts. As we head back toward West Caicos I see a spout then that gorgeous turquoise color of the water washing over their pecs as they surface. We get pretty close and John gets in. He gets a brief glimpse as a mother and calf swim by. He gets back in Spy Hop and we find them again. This time John gets in and they swim under the boat and come up beside Spy Hop, before swimming away. I was debating getting in then trying to film but it all happened so fast I didn't get anything done! John gets back in Spy Hop and asks if I'd like to get in. ARE YOU KIDDING!!! WOULD I LIKE TO GET IN!?!?! I've been trying to be a good sport and let him swim with the whales since he always drives the boat and rarely gets the fun part of swimming with the dolphins. I climb in. Whoa! Its deep and really dark blue. Visibility is not great. I see a white pec up ahead, now a whole whale comes into view. She's hanging quietly in the water. I stay a respectful way off hoping she'll be comfortable with my company. Pretty soon her calf comes up to breath and sees me. He sinks down again under Mom's chin but next time he comes up to breath, he comes closer. Every time he surfaces, he comes a little closer and Mom's not minding at all. It's now been about 20 blissful minutes and she slowly surfaces to breath. As she drops back down she and junior start slowly swimming and they are perfectly content having me swim along beside them. She swims with her calf under her just like the dolphins. They start to slowly descend into the deep dark blue. I really think they would have been ok if I had followed them but thought if I wanted to keep my boat driver, I'd better go back and try not to gloat too much :)