Friday, February 13, 2009
On Thursday we took an afternoon trip with Wild Dolphin Adventures and headed out with Captain John on the Coral Reefer to look for dolphins. We went with two very nice German tourists and had a fantastic afternoon!
There is a local pod of bottle-nosed dolphins that live in the shallows on the north, sheltered, side of the island. There is an area where they normally hang out, play, sleep, etc - it's been dubbed "the dolphin playground". We had a great day for the trip - warm and low winds. The water visibility wasn't great because of the previous windy days but it was still beautiful emerald water. The tour we chose is one that will let you get in the water and interact with the dolphins if they are in the mood. They are very respectful of the dolphins - no chasing, harassing, etc. Almost immediately after getting there we spotted several dolphins and we cruised nearby and sat, mesmerized by them for hours. I never knew that they played in a group - 3 - 6 together, rolling around on each other in a "dolphin ball" (see pic above). Several other boats came by to look as well. Once the other boats had left we were allowed to get in the water. Only George (one of the German tourists) and I were interested. The water was 69 degrees and it was cooold! We slid in and waited but unfortunately, the dolphins were done playing and not in the mood. They swam by us uninterested so we got back in the boat. Within a few minutes it appeared that they were sleeping so we went off and toured the shallow channel that runs through the area and saw a Portuguese Man o'War (so glad we were out of the water at that point!) and a few sting rays hanging out in the sea grass.
The captain was an incredible wealth of information about dolphins, the waters off Key West and the marine life there. I learned so much. So far, I've been really happy with the tours we done and I think that looking for operations that market themselves as "eco-tours" is definitely the way to go. Not only do I not worry as much about doing something that might be harmful to the wildlife and land, but the respect and knowledge of the guides is wonderful. I think these tours are also smaller and less crowded so you have a more "real" experience rather than the "cattle car" tour.
It was an awesome afternoon! Martin took some excellent photos. I had a really hard time choosing so I posted several on the pic-of-the-day album.
There's much more to write about our time in Key West - we're having a Great time - and we'll be posting more soon! In the meantime, email Martin to bug him, I'm having a hard time getting him back into the blogging mood :)