We saw dolphins, old friends today.
Our morning was slow with no sightings of dolphins. But the afternoon brought us close to four spotted dolphins. A subadult (mottled) class 4 male named Echo (#103) and three juvenile (speckle-bellied) class 3 females. They were very interactive with one another playing with seaweed, broken sponge coral pieces and chasing fish around. They also mimicked some of us in the water and swam very close.
In fact, one of the females and the male rubbed up against me … rubbing me with their melon and then their sides. Words are just not adequate to describe the feelings I had during this encounter. The kid in me was squealing with delight at the thought that these dolphins, which I last saw as youngsters, would remember me. Of course, the scientist in me kept looking for behaviors that would signify recognition. (The rubbing is a probable indication!!)
Several times during this encounter we saw all four dolphins come together in a sort-of head-to-head formation. They almost resembled a starburst pattern with their flukes forming a spaced-out pinwheel shape. They would jaw with open mouths at each other and then rub melons against each other followed by much body rubbing as they passed one another.
They also seemed to enjoy swimming through and just barely terrorizing the school of horse-eyed jacks making a temporary home under our hull.
We had one more encounter later in the day but the dolphins did not stay long. We anchored for the night and chatted about what we saw. Here's hoping for more dolphins tomorrow!