Dolphins are mammals. http://www.defenders.org/dolphin/basic-facts Who doesn’t love them?
Who would pass up a Groupon offer to go on a Dolphin sighting cruise? Not me!
My partner in adventurous excursions and I headed down to John’s Pass in Madeira Beach, Florida. www.BoatToursJohnsPass.com
Our reservations were for the noon cruise, which was perfect. The discounted Groupon fare coupled with the guarantee that if we didn’t see any dolphins, our next cruise was free we had nothing to lose. The weather was perfect; humidity was low and the temperature was cooler than previous days.
As the pontoon style vessel pulled away from the dock, the sound track was the theme from “Gilligan’s Island.” This was an hour and a half cruise – not three hours. It was an amusing touch of humor, not sure the small group of locals and tourists all “got it.” It had been a long time since I was out on the waters on a pleasure trip. It was just breezy enough for small white caps on the water and all of us wearing caps/hats were suddenly chasing head gear around the deck.
The captain pointed out the location of the personal flotation vests. Another bit of humor, if we see the deck-hand running with a vest be sure we grab one. The captain will not be going down with the ship! Captain gave a summation of local history; birds we may see; other highlights of the cruise.
It was not too long before we began to see dolphins swimming and playing in the Boca Ciega Bay. There are ‘regulars’ the captain and crew (of 1) can recognize. An interesting tid bit regarding “Split Fin;” it had been assumed she was clipped by a propeller resulting in a split in her fin. When she eventually gave birth, her baby was born with the same (genetic) trait! It’s not clear to me how they now identify mother from son…
There were small groups of dolphins wherever we looked, as far as the eye can see. Luckily, when I take a picture of barely visible subjects, I can edit the capture and it appears that I was directly on top of them. I am amazed that this feature is part of my technical wizardry – all from my (old) Samsung phone without a heavy, expensive telephoto lens. Unfortunately, I have not figured out how to get photos from my phone to my blog. I posted some on FB, though.
Eventually the Captain pushed the throttle forward to subtle strains of the theme from ‘Jaws’ before switching to Jimmy Buffet tunes. We were off to get a look as homes of wealthy locals. I will protect their identity because I don’t really know any of them. However, if you saw the old movie, ‘Cocoon,’ the indoor pool scenes were filmed in one of the pool houses of the wealthy. Love that movie! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088933/fullcredits/
One of the larger privately owned boats/yachts docked without protective canvas was covered…hundreds of crows perched on the boat. I can only imagine what the deck collected and would need to be scrubbed. Other birds were seen, including Brown Pelicans, egrets and white ibis.
As we were rounding back to the dock, dolphins appeared along side the boat (unexpectedly). Captain dutifully slowed so we could enjoy them again.
There are a variety of options for cruises at John’s Pass. The Dophin Quest shoves off at noon and every two hours until 6:00 p.m. Now that Florida has shifted back to Standard Eastern Time, it may be that the 6:00 doesn’t go out. I recommend this adventure to anyone who likes the water and wants to see a bit of the wild side on the west coastal waters of central Florida. The trip we took is accessible for wheelchairs. There is plenty of comfortable, padded bench seating. If you don’t have a Groupon, ask for a discount – especially if you are a senior.