Diving with Dolphins: Shark Edition

Monday morning, we explored Alice Town during break and got caught in the rain! When we got back, it looked as if we’d all showered in our clothes. Our class session was on interspecies interactions and we discussed the possibility of “spottlenose” dolphins. We chatted about the advantages to mixed species groups and why they might form. We grabbed lunch and then….

Our afternoon boat trip wasn’t aimed at finding dolphins (though we are always on the lookout, of course!). It was a really calm, sunny day – not quite Dr. M’s “jiggly jello” sea state, but close. We began with our surprise stop at Honeymoon Harbor (on Gun Cay). Here, we got to meet southern stingrays. We were a bit spooked at first as more and more came closer and closer. Soon, nurse sharks joined. We got to touch them – the stingrays are so smooth and the nurse shark felt like sandpaper. They all came up to us like little, over-excited puppies. Being careful to make sure we reminded the nurses that our cameras were not food, Captain Al and Denver showed us how to toss the food to the sharks and not actually hand feed them. Some of us may have been squealing most of the time…We got to stay for quite a while. On the swim back to the boat, the rays and nurses followed us. At the boat, some of us got to see the largest nurse of the day – one that Captain Al knows well due to the scar on its face.

It was a short, snack-filled cruise to Triangle Rocks where Haley and Holly saw some coral that we had seen earlier in the coral ID book, and Denver showed us some fire coral (ouch!). We saw Caribbean reef and sharpnose sharks and spotted eagle rays. There were at least three different spotted eagle rays and we all got to see at least two of them, some of us fairly close up. While getting a good look at the sharks, we saw at least one with a tag and another with a hook and line caught in its mouth. At the end, Denver scooped up a spiny lobster for us all to see. He showed us how to tell that it was a male, and explained the females have little claws in order to hold onto their eggs. Of course, we put the lobster back, since lobster season is currently closed in The Bahamas.

Back on the boat, we were able to watch Al and Denver throw the rest of the bait in the water. The sharks came right to the surface, knocking into each other to get the snacks. Denver brought the head of the barracuda he had caught last night. He tied it to a line and hung it off the back of the boat….until the sharks grabbed it! Once all the bait was gone, we thanked the sharks and made our way home. Closer to shore, we were in the capable hands of Captain M (under Captain Al’s watchful eye of course). She came. She saw. She conquered (the sea).

Until tomorrow,

Roll Kerns (EKU 2019)