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Friday, May 22, 2009

In Search of Dolphins

In Search of Dolphins
by Naomi Black

When I am at the beach, my eyes are always scanning the ocean searching for dolphins! When we first got a new Waverunner, after everyone rode, I finally took my turn in Cholla Bay. Within a few minutes, I noticed dolphins. They were swimming fast under the water and straight at me! Just as one swam directly under me, an alarm went off on the Waverunner. I was completely excited! Quickly I rode back to the beach. “Russ, you didn’t tell me the new Waverunner has a FishFinder!” That's a family joke now because the alarm was actually telling me that I was running out of gas. Technology often confuses me . . . But I do love dolphins.

Recently on a sunny Saturday morning, we rented a new pedal style kayak from Kayak Rocky Point. We took it out to the water near Las Conchas in Puerto PeƱasco. The ocean was peaceful and clear; we could see deep under the calm water. My son, Braden, and I took the first ride. Before we knew it, we were kayaking amidst about a dozen dolphins. Wildly waving my arms, I made crazy gestures to my husband, who jumped in another smaller kayak with his camera and paddled like mad to meet us.

The pedal kayak is very stable even with two people, and Braden steered the kayak in tight curves and turns as we followed the dolphins back and forth around for about a half an hour. I pedaled until I thought my legs would fall off!

The dolphins jumped as many as six wide in unison. They are sleek creatures, barely gliding out of the water and then quietly diving back under water. We continued to watch in silence. Experiencing the moment! After quite a few minutes, one dolphin started to slap his tail on the water each time he came to the surface. Braden said, “Mom, I think we’re making him nervous or something!” Later, some online research showed that he was probably right. Dolphins will slap the water with their tails for a number of reasons. Repeated tail-slaps directed at a boat may indicate that the dolphin is "telling" the boat to "back off." Other studies show that tail-slapping could be linked to feeding or social behaviors; perhaps the dolphin is “calling” other dolphins to come close because food is near.

In the silence of the pedal kayak, we could hear each dolphin as it emerged from the water making a loud “pooff” sound as it expelled air. Words simply cannot describe what it was like to be so close to these grand animals in such a quiet atmosphere. Finally, the dolphins made their exit, swimming away much faster than we could follow. Talk about making our day . . . Wow!

For more information about pedal kayaks (rental or sales), contact Tammy at Kayak Rocky Point at (638) 103-2038, toll-free (866) 687-2510, or visit www.kayakrockypoint.com. For more information about dolphins, check out the Dolphin Research Institute at www.dolphinresearch.org.au.