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September 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dolphin Dream, The Bahamas

dolphin snorkeling for the patient and energetic

from the September, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

The call came at 7 p.m. The Dolphin Dream had been steaming for hours. The sun was low, and two of the guests had already cracked open beers, having given up on a dolphins interaction that day. The rest of us assembled on the dive deck, donned our fins, snorkels, and masks, ready to make our giant stride. Six Atlantic spotted dolphins swam off the stern, waiting for us to join them.

The water was a deep shade of blue, the sandy bottom only 30 feet deep. As with most of our evening encounters, the dolphins were more energetic and playful than they had been during the morning. They chased and playfully nipped at each other and at the fins of the free divers. Whenever I thought they had left, one would suddenly zoom past me, quickly followed by others. I was struck by how close they came to me without making contact. Occasionally one would burrow its beak into the sand, searching for a bottom dweller, before returning to play. It was getting dark, and from the bridge, Captain Scott indicated it was time to for us to board. We had been in the water for more than 30 minutes.

MV Dolphin DreamThe beer drinkers should have had more confidence in the Captain's ability to locate the dolphins. Captain Wayne 'Scott' Smith has been leading dolphin charters in the Bahamas for more than 37 years. Although we swam with bottlenose dolphins, it was the friendlier Atlantic spotted dolphins that we sought.

About 80 of them reside in 60 square miles of the northwestern Great Bahama Bank. They can be identified by the spotting patterns developed as they age and by scars from shark attacks and boat injuries. In a book he co-authored, "Dolphin Tales, True Stories of the Atlantic Spotted Dolphins," Captain Scott related his adventures with those he has befriended over the years. The silverback of Bahamian dolphin diving, Scott indeed has a loyal following. Most of my fellow guests -- six Americans, three Japanese, and a German -- had been on his boat several times. One woman who has been coming annually for 22 years could only recall three days when Captain Scott failed to deliver his customers to the dolphins. Riory and Zack, young and friendly deckhands, and Heidi, the chatty and skilled chef, completed the crew....

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