‘Dancing’ dolphins are a making a splash with nature lovers!
A recent assignment to cruise through Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve gave me an opportunity to snap photos of Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins at play in their home territory, the second largest of the five Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves in Southwest Florida.
A trio of the sleek, gray-glistening mammals had dozens of shutterbugs, including myself, hanging from the sides of our boat, elbowing for position to snap their majestic performance as they flipped and soared through the wake of our boat during a recent tour with Dolphin Watch & Wildlife Adventure Cruises.
Our 90-minute adventure departed from McCarthy’s Marina, located in Captiva Village, on Captiva Island.
We arrived about 45 minutes early, giving us plenty of time to park near the dock, purchase tickets, and think about diving into some ice cream cones, before joining a group of 50 fellow passengers.
Hand-holding couples, stroller-pushing families, and a smattering of teens lined the dock, quietly waiting to board the 45-foot catamaran, The Santiva, with a refreshment bar and somewhat-friendly restrooms.
After a brief welcome from our Captain, the line of passengers moved quickly as they were assisted stepping on board, most scrambling for seats on the sundeck in the front of the boat.
Our guide, a volunteer docent with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, directed us to canopy-covered benches at the back, sharing my favorite tip… EVER… “the best dolphin photos are taken from the back of the boat, those frisky fellas just love to play in our waves.”
While cruising through the serene, shallow waters, our Captain searched for the fast-moving creatures by using state-of-the-art navigation equipment.
Along the way we spotted flocks of migrating birds and other wildlife, as our guide offered informative tidbits about the area, answering numerous questions about dolphin behavior, and patiently reassuring the group, “don’t worry they’re here, keep watching and stay alert, I’m almost certain we’ll spot a couple today.”
Moments later, a young teen lounging on the sundeck with earbuds glued to her head, bolts to her feet and shouts, “over there!”
Rushing to the side of the boat, we squint and search in the direction the young girl is frantically pointing as she dances up and down with excitement.
And in the far, far, FAR distance a few of us begin to spot a few gray fins slicing through the water.