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swimming with dolphins

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New Member
Aug 19, 2002
We had nice encounter with some dolphins Saturday. Our area in the Gulf of Mexico has two main types of dolphins. The most common is the Atlantic Bottlenose. They are all over, in the channels and in the ocean. They seem to be a serious manual and are not playful, at least in the wild. If you get close to them, they disappear.

The other, less common dolphin is the Atlantic Spotted. I have only seen them in blue water. They have a completely different attitude. They love to swim in front of the bow of the boat and the sides. I have had the pleasure of swimming twice with them this summer. The first was at the stern of the boat, when we were tied up to an oilrig. They allowed me close enough, I was able to touch one, but I had my speargun with me with a broadhead tip and I was uncomfortable trying to hold the tip out of water and away from them. They left quickly, probably sensing my uncomfortableness.

Saturday we were coming back from a long day of spearfishing when we came upon a large group following a rip in blue water. We turned around and slowed down to 7 knots. Soon they were in front of the bow and on our sides. We used to lay on the bow with our heads and arms hanging over and touch them. They really seemed to like the contact, but I put a lexan splashguard up there and its no longer possible.

We stopped after a little bit and my dive buddy wanted me to get in with his 18 year-old son. I was beat, but he wanted to stay with the boat, so I agreed and we jumped in. There were about 15 dolphins that came over to us. This time they would not let us closer than 5 feet, but there were 3 pups in the group, which I assume was the reason they kept a little distance.

They were real interested in us. There was at least one full grown dolphin close to each pup as if they were schooling them, probably saying something like this: “here is something you don’t see very often, two crazy humans trying to swim with us!”

We tried making all kinds of sounds, but they seemed to pull away from us when we did that. What they like the most was seeing us dive and swim. If we swam horizontal under the water they would come beside us and try to swim with us. They would slowly inch infront of us, like they were encouraging us to speed up. “Come on, you can swim faster!” I sure wish we had an underwater camera with us, because we could have taken some great pictures.

After about 20 minutes we got back in the boat and took off. I put the throttles all the down, which is no earth shattering acceleration on this boat. When the bow started coming down we could see two swimming infront of us. They seemed to love the thrill of trying to stay ahead of the accelerating boat. Soon they were adding additional kicks while air borne. They stayed infront until about 18 knots when they finally dove.

It seemed they were giving us a fair well for taking the time to stop and play with them.
Nice story Don. After seeing them so many times at seaworld, etc., I would love to actually be in the water with them.
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