Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Boogieboarding with dolphins

When we were in the Keys, I dreamt about swimming with dolphins and I researched responsible dolphin watching without success (actually, there was one option that was super expensive and real responsible dolphin watching is not swimming with dolphins anyways, so basically, you pay $400 to be on a boat that was going at respectful speed, in a respectful way for the dolphins...), so I had pretty much made a cross on seeing dolphins... until some magic happened. We were boogieboarding in Sebastian Inlet's crazy waves when a family of dolphins swam a mere 30 yards from us for a good 20 minutes... It was surreal! All the surfers stopped and sat on their boards, mesmerized too. The dolphins jumping and the seagulls were diving all around them. It was an incredible show.

Quand nous étions dans les Keys, je rêvais de nager avec les dauphins et j'ai fait des recherches sur l'observation responsable de dauphins, mais sans succès (en fait, il y avait une option, mais c'était super cher et la vraie observation responsable des dauphins n'est pas de nager avec les dauphins, alors, on doit payer 400 $ pour être sur un bateau qui va à une vitesse respectueuse pour les dauphins...), j'avais donc fait une croix sur mon désir de voir des dauphins... jusqu'à ce que la magie opère. On faisait du boogie board dans les vagues folles de Sebastian Inlet quand une famille de dauphins est apparue à environ 30 mètres de nous et y a nagé pour une bonne vingtaine de minutes... C'était irréel! Tous les surfeurs se sont aussi arrêtés et se sont assis sur leurs planches, révérencieux. Les dauphins sautaient et les mouettes plongeaient tout autour d'eux. C'était tout un spectacle.

When they left, we walk along the shore in the same direction they were going (they stayed 50 yards from the shore!) and saw that the baby was swimming super close to an adult, coming up at the same time. The locals said they had never seen that before! We sure were in luck! We felt really, really blessed...

Quand ils sont partis, nous avons marché le long du rivage dans la même direction qu'eux (ils restaient à 50 mètres du rivage!) et nous avons vu que le bébé nageait tout près d'un adulte et qu'il sortait de l'eau en même temps. Les locaux disaient qu'ils n'avaient jamais vu rien de tel auparavant! Quelle chance nous avons eu!

The sea was wild and I was really glad my girls were sea-savvy thanks to our 5 months of playing in the monster Pacific waves of Costa Rica last winter. We still got each the equivalent of 5 bottles of Rinse sinus up our noses and a pretty good exfoliation from our bad crashes, but a very good dose of fun and an incredible dose of magic.

La mer était déchaînée et j'étais bien heureuse que mes filles aient acquis 5 mois d'expérience dans les monstrueuses vagues du Pacifique au Costa Rica l'hiver dernier. On a quand même eu chacune l'équivalent de 5 bouteilles de Rinse-sinus dans le nez et une bonne exfoliation grâce à nos tonneaux dans le sable abrasif, mais aussi une bonne dose de plaisir et une dose incroyable de magie.

Those photos were taken later, when JF came and joined us after he was done working... and the dolphins were gone... We only had twinkles in our eyes to prove hime we were not lying. 

Ces photos ont été prises plus tard, quand JF est venu nous rejoindre après avoir terminé son travail... et les dauphins étaient partis... Il ne restait que les étoiles dans nos yeux pour lui prouver que nous ne lui mentions bel et bien pas.


Carine said...

Magnifique !!!!

valeria said...

The bloody creatures can behave rather nicely sometimes :)

Marine Biologist's jokes aside...THANK YOU for choosing not to swim with them to not impact their behaviour. As you see, they decided to swim with you anyway and in a way more special way.

I feel blessed every time I got the chance of work in the field, but knowing that others are willing to respect them as well is what fill my heart.

Catherine said...

Thank YOU so much for providing me with such great information that allowed me to make the only decision I could have made after reading it! It made so much sense!

How can you explain such a behavior? Why so close? Why were all the seagulls around them, diving on and around them? Is the baby swimming just beside the mom all the time? They sure have a very special vibe...

valeria said...

(Geek mode on)
Yep calves, the babies, always swim alongside the mother up to a certain age that depends on the species (I believe you probably saw bottlenose dolphins, in this case calves start to be less synchronized with their mothers around 3 months old). They receive an hydrodynamic advantage by the position but mostly is due to learning via imitation and synchronization.

I cannot say for sure why they were so close to shore but if seagulls were around then they almost certainly feeding. Seagulls take advantage of the feeding techniques of dolphins (they force fish in a tight ball as a defines but really they are just making themselves into a meatball).
As for them coming closer to people, they might have followed the fishes or trapped them on porpoise in shallower waters. Also dolphins are curious creatures, they might not like to be harassed but they surely wanna check you out. :)

Catherine said...

You sure are my favorite geek in the whole world! This is fascinating! Thanks so much for this information! Yes, they were indeed bottlenoses and the baby was quite small and they were totally synchronized!

Suzanne said...

Wow Catherine,

Ça devait être effectivement magique et irréel à la fois. Vous êtes vraiment chanceuses d'avoir vécu cette belle expérience.