Kicking off solo excursion week for the interns

Tuesday started off like usual, we hopped out of bed and began our office work with a cup of coffee. While working we were plotting on how we were going to surprise Captain Al for his birthday. Kel is off visiting family in California, so she left us in charge of delivering his gift and a birthday pastry from the bakery. We decided that while Al and Patrick were on the boat, Kaiya and Tori would go to the bakery, and once we were all home for night we would surprise him. After our morning passed and we had lunch, Patrick got ready for the boat, while Kaiya and Tori prepared for their day on land.

Tori and Kaiya:

After Patrick left for his solo boat trip, Kaiya went outside to stretch her legs and discovered that another boat ran afoul on the reef at the tip of the island and was stuck (This makes 3 in less than 2 weeks!). Kaiya also got to see Captain Al and Patrick motor by in the boat, once out of the channel, she could see them in the distance as they appeared to have found dolphins not far from shore! Once that excitement wore off, Kaiya and Tori decided that it was time to bike down to the bakery and see what they could get for Captain Al’s birthday surprise. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much chocolate available, so they opted for a giant cinnamon bun and some freshly made chocolate chip cookies. Once back home, they spent several hours working in the office on video logs and catalog ID’s, before an afternoon break to go for a snorkel and enjoyed watching various fish in the reefs and shallows, as well as some rays. Kaiya and Tori had a hard time deciding to call it quits, and head back home to get some more work done before the boat returned.


Since Al was taking a small group on the little boat there isn’t much room for all of us; so I headed to the boat solo. After arriving and waiting out a small spot of rain, we were on board and heading out of the channel a few minutes after 2 pm. On our way out we saw another boat stuck at the tip of the island, that makes three since we’ve been here, Al claims that has to be some sort of record. As we rounded the southern tip of the island and headed north we were soon greeted by a few bottlenose dolphins. They were spread out and seemed to be crater feeding, so after snapping a few surface photos we continued north in search of spotted dolphins. The further up we got the bigger and bigger a storm cloud ahead of us got. I was worried that it might force us back home, but Al didn’t seem too concerned as we circled around to wait it out, all the while still searching for dolphins. Soon enough we found them! A group of 11 spotteds that were travelling north, they were all sub-adults and adults except for two calves. The wind had picked up and the waves got bigger, and this certainly was not a problem for the dolphins as they surfed the waves. They also engaged in quite a lot of pec rubbing and seaweed play. We followed them for a little bit and every once in a while they would change directions, or stop and stay in the same area and then continue travelling. We decided we would give it a shot and get in with them. The first encounter was a quick one as we hopped in, they weren’t too interested and swam by and out of sight. We hopped back on board and decided to try again. Luckily, the storm cloud had broken up and passed, so we were out of harm’s way. During the second encounter they hung around for much longer and we got to see all sorts of interactions and bubble play, along with the continued seaweed play. This time around I got a better look at everyone and was able to ID Splitjaw (#22), Prince William (#64) and possibly Cerra (#38)! Eventually, they swam out of sight as they continued on. Luckily, we got another shot and hopped in the water for a third time. Since it was the same group the whole time it helped me get more familiar with the individuals I knew, and the others I kept in mind to try and identify in the video later. The third time in the water was similar to the second, as the dolphins would stop and check us out, they would swim around us, blow bubbles at us, and swim alongside us. The entire group seemed very playful as they swam circles around us and darted back and forth. But eventually, the group swam off into the distance as they continued travelling. As we made our way to get out of the water we saw a large nurse shark cruising at the bottom of the ocean. It was a nice sight to end to the encounter for the guests, and myself. We got aboard the boat and decided to head towards home and see if we could spot another group on our way in. We had no luck with spotteds, but we saw bottlenose in the exact same spot as we did earlier, right next to shore. We continued home and docked the boat at the Sea Crest. After reviewing the footage I was able to ID Tim (#69) and Speedy (#78)! It was an exciting first day for the guests, as well as a valuable experience for myself. I hope the next few days are just as good for Tori and Kaiya!

After Patrick arrived home, we prepared for the surprise. We put a candle in the cinnamon bun and headed upstairs. We lit it before we knocked on the door and as he opened the door we began singing Happy Birthday with full intentions of embarrassing him. He opened his goodie bag of gifts that was left for him and he seemed excited about his cookies and cinnamon bun as well. It was a rather eventful day and we were happy to surprise Al for his birthday.

Until tomorrow,

The Trio

Kaiya, Patrick, and Tori