Friday, September 21, 2012

Dolphin Day

Catching a quick glimpse of a dorsal fin as it disappears into the waves or hearing the heavy sigh of a blow hole surfacing is always an exciting experience but, for me, somewhat tinged with frustration.
Although a relatively frequent occurrence here at Jalova, dolphin sightings usually consist of a tantalising speck on the horizon or a brief couple of minutes watching a small pod swim past as we stand on the beach at the river mouth.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely lucky and grateful to see such things but it always leaves me wanting more!
I often wondered what it would be like to watch dolphins from our boat, free from the restrictions normally imposed on us by our terrestrial lifestyle. Until now.

It was a calm, clear morning on the canal after a night of heavy rain, lightning and thunder that seemed to shake the foundations of our wooden huts. 
Roberto and I were on boat duty which meant we had to drop off the bird survey team and canoe at the start of the survey site and pick them up at the end.

During the two hours it takes to complete the survey we had some time to kill so took the boat to California canal in search of a new survey site.
On the way back, Roberto, who was driving, gave a shout and I looked up to see a single dolphin swimming upstream towards us over 5km from the sea.
Although I’ve heard river dolphins, known as Tucuxis, do live in these canals, this was most definitely the dorsal fin of a bottle-nosed as it was larger and more curved than that of its riparian cousin.

We watched it for a little while before it inevitably continued past us on its quest upstream.
Happy with our sighting and looking forward to sharing our news, we headed back to pick up the bird survey team.

With everyone back on the boat, swapping stories of what had been spotted during the morning, we cruised back to base via the river mouth. As we were getting ready to moor up we heard a big splash just behind the boat. We turned to see a lone dolphin heading towards the sea. Could it be the same individual Roberto and I had watched only an hour or so before? I guess we’ll never know but I’d like to think so.
Roberto cut the engine and let the boat drift on the current. We spent a fantastic twenty minutes or more watching as the dolphin casually circled the boat before slowly making its way back to the ocean.

Pepper got some great shots of the dolphin swimming near the river mouth

Everyone was delighted to have shared such a special experience – the proverbial icing on the cake for what was another fantastic morning messing around on the river.

- Sarah, Field Staff