This week I ventured up the coast a little to check out the dives sites in the Bucerias area, and found some classy to amuse myself with.
First spots, I found some coral I had never seen before, and I am researching it to find out exactly what it is before I post photos. The fish species were plentiful with large schools all around me, but, the highlight of the day was the large pod of spotted dolphins that were all over me for a few hours. I have never spent so much time in the water with dolphins.
We have 3 species of dolphins in this area, the spinner, the spotted and the bottlenose dolphins. Like most fish species, they are easy to tell apart as their names are self descriptive! I would love to meet the bright sparks who names marine creatures. Still, it makes it easy for us to remember what they are called.
The spinner dolphins, although endangered, are still seen in the bay here. They like to ride along on the bow of boats and leap out of the water, spinning. It is believed they spin so as to create a large splash to let the rest of the pod know where they are. I think it is just because they can! They are very athletic and powerful dolphins, and can reach speeds of up to 35kph.
The spotted dolphins are quite common around the bay. They tend to hang about with yellow fin tuna, which are plentiful here, so I get to see them nearly every day. They seem to love playing in the wake of the boat and my captain loves picking them up and getting them to follow us. The spotted dolphins I encountered were swimming all around me and around each other with the accuracy of a well drilled fighter pilot simply by using sonar. Very clever indeed.
The bottlenose dolphins are the brains of the dolphin world. That is why they are so often seen in aquariums showing their clever tricks off. Flipper, that great 1960´s show, used 5 bottlenose dolphins during filming, all females.
Male bottlenose dolphins are aggressive, so they have more battle scars which are not very photogenic! Although Flipper was fiction, some of the stories were not too far from the truth.
There is a well documented and dumbfounding incident of dolphin intervention and interaction with humans reported from New Zealand in November, 2004. Four lifeguards, who were swimming 300 feet off the Whangarei coast, encountered a Great White Shark.
As the shark started closing in on the lifeguards, a group of bottlenose dolphins herded the swimmers towards the shore and kept them surrounded from all sides for forty minutes. In this fashion, they kept the shark from attacking while slowly escorting the humans towards safety! Do I have any explanation for such behaviour? What was their point in saving those 4 lifeguards?
The answer is nothing but highly evolved intelligence and superhuman compassion! I have read that if bottlenose dolphins had thumbs, they would rule the world. Now that would be a fun place to live. All in all, being with the dolphins in their natural habitat is really very special and something that can´t be recreated at a dolphin show.