Thursday, June 6, 2013

Surfin' Dolphins!

Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy! We hit the jackpot today! We think we finally have the secret to successfully seeing dolphins on a dolphin cruise...You don't go on a pontoon style boat, a catamaran or a large boat that holds TONS of people. We've done that, tried all those different boats and haven't had any dolphins do any playing near the boat. We've seen them follow along for a bit, teasingly come close, and then move away. Nothing really special to write home about. But here's how you get a better chance of seeing them, at least this is what we THINK increases your chances of seeing them.

You pick a cruise with a FAST boat, a "cigarette style" boat, a speedboat that throws out a HUMONGOUS wake! How about a boat that is 70 feet long, and travels fast!  How about a Groupon coupon for 12.00 a person. We were in! We felt if we didn't see any or hardly any, it would be well worth a speedboat ride out into the Gulf on a hot day. It was!

The Dolphin Speedboat Racer fills the bill AND for the most part, delivers most of the time. It's not really up to them what you do see, but they do their best to deliver by moving the boat around in the Intercoastal Waterway channels and out into the Gulf of Mexico. If they spot dolphins in the area, they maneuver the boat to where the wake will tease the dolphins into coming into the wake and surfing the waves. If you check out the link, you get to see what the tour boat sees on a good day. We didn't see as many as the website video shows, but we did see quite a show. Of course, you never know on a nature cruise whether Mother Nature's kids are going to be out and about, but today, the dolphins were there.

Captain Dennis was the captain of the boat today, and he was so funny! He cracked jokes, teased and interacted wonderfully with us today. He really made the tour very enjoyable. He did a great job of predicting when and where to look for the dolphins. If he saw them out in front of the boat, he knew that within seconds, they would surface at the back of the boat in the wake, and he was right!

He told us some interesting information while we were waiting for some surfing action from the dolphins. There were frigatebirds in the sky...Big birds with wingspans of 7-8 feet, with the ability to fly up to three weeks at sea before needing to land. When you see the frigatebirds soaring in the sky over the water, you know dolphins are in the area.  The birds try to steal the dolphins' fish.

Frigatebirds are mostly black with very distinctive forked tails. The females and immature birds have white throats and heads. They steal fish from other birds and from the dolphins by doing speedy dives, making other birds drop their food or throw it up. The dolphins get angry at the frigatebirds and if the birds swoop in low to steal the dolphin's fish, the dolphins will sometimes attack and kill the frigatebird.

The males are cool looking when it's mating season. They puff up their red throat to attract the female.
These birds are migrating from the Caribbean right now, towards the Gulf coast of Florida. The captain said in the middle of summer, there will be a lot more frigatebirds in the area, so the dolphin watching should be even more spectacular then....But you never know....Sparky was the first one to spot a dolphin on the tour today, but unfortunately, the first one spotted had no interest in playing in the wake. Keep watching, the captain they come! Towards the end of the trip, no less!

First, the fin....You've got to look hard to see the fin in the center of the wave...The fin is slicing through the top of the wave...Eldy saw TWO sets of dolphins on each side of the wave's wake body surfing right at the rear of the boat at one point....
And here they come again, diving and jumping......

We saw a mom and her baby, but Sparky didn't catch them on camera. The mother was maybe teaching the baby how to play and have fun!
Eldy kept watch at the side and back of the boat. Here comes another one!
And yet another.....
And then one made a sharp turn, deciding he had played long enough...time to go!

And yet one last jump from a different dolphin....This one was the best one with the detail in the photo. He looks like he's smiling and watching us at the same time!

What a thrill this was today! We highly recommend the Dolphin Watch Cruise on the speedboat racer! No refunds or rainchecks, so check the weather before you go....and have fun! We did!


  1. How cool is that!!! Terrific pictures :-) We gotta do that.

  2. Wow you really did it this time. Great pictures!

  3. Looks like a fun day, great pics!

  4. Great pictures- they really do love to play in those waves.

  5. awww. . .what a fabulous day for you. . .yaaa! great pics. . .

  6. Wow - that is just so neat. I love Groupon.

  7. Great pictures. If you ever see that deal again, let me know. I'd love to go.

  8. Great shots of the dolphins ... will have to remember the tip about doing a tour with a high-speed boat.