Monday was my fifth day on the island and I feel completely at home. So far, I have biked to get my groceries, seen a bull shark and stingray from the dock, and killed two cockroaches. Nat taught me how to enter data from different trips and tricks on how to ID bottlenose and spotted dolphins from pictures. After spending a few days doing computer work, it was finally time to have my first boat trip and get in on the action. Even though we weren’t getting on the boat till 3, I woke up at 6 am ready to go. I got some work done, was given a tour of the boat, and then began prepping for our trip.
Once on the boat, all data sheets I had been inputting finally started to make sense. After recording the time we left the dock and passed the sand bar, I looked at Nat and asked what we should do next. She told me it was time to just look and wait- then she bragged a little about how she was the first to spot dolphins on her last few trips.
We drove around for an hour with no fins in sight, but the group on board continued to ask us questions regarding the species we were looking for and good ways to spot them. It was exciting feeling like the expert on board and also knowing they were just as excited to see them as we were.
After seeing a splash in the distance, we geared the boat East and finally found some dolphins. However, since they were feeding, they wouldn’t be interested in playing with us, so we just hung out on board and watched them chase fish. After a half hour of this, the group decided it was time for a swim break. Nat and I jumped in as well and she pointed out a small barracuda swimming under us.
We hopped back on board and decided to start heading back towards shore, while still looking for dolphins on the way. About an hour into the ride in, I saw something jump in my peripheral view. I immediately jumped up and screamed “DOLPHINS” and just when everyone was turning, three spotted dolphins leapt out of the water.
While Nat got ready to get in the water, I went to the front of the boat and watched the dolphins bow ride. I was able to point out to the group up there with me which ones were calves and which were the full adults. I stayed up on the front and watched part of the group get in the water and the dolphins swimming right between them. Nat kept free diving and was able to get some great footage of a few of the dolphins. After 10 minutes the dolphins moved on, but Nat jumped on board with the biggest smile on her face and yelled up at me “#22 and #93”- she was able to identify two of her favorites- Split Jaw and Inka.
On the way back into shore we were both giddy with excitement, but also overcome with hunger. We discussed what we could make for dinner for around twenty minutes- but it basically came down to just ramen.
We got back to our place just in time for an amazing message; Kelly had leftovers. In the pitch black we biked to her place (almost falling a few times) to grab a meal with a little bit more nutrition than ramen. We ate in bed and discussed the day; we had originally planned on doing another hour of work, but after a 10-hour workday, we just wanted to go to bed.
Nat and I are super excited to see what a full week of boat trips bring us. We also started planning to do a shark dive on one of our mornings off and taking an hour or two break one day to snorkel a shipwreck off the island.
Frankie & Nat