Thursday, January 19, 2012

Heart of DolphinLand


I entered DolphinLand again yesterday!!!  Ruffles led me into the Heart of DolphinLand on 1/20/2012.
Incredible swim with 19 large males and the song of the Humpbacks in the background!

 This next video is part one, taken one year ago on Jan. 5, 2011.

Pamela Polland's gorgeous song, "The Heart of the World," goes so well with these one-take sequences of very friendly dolphins.  The dolphins were lying in my lap, as I say. ~~ gentle, curious, investigative. We were in the "Heart of DolphinLand" I kept telling my guests.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bottlenose Dolphins Play with Fish Ball

Bottlenose Dolphins Playing with Fish Ball

Catching a fleeting glimpse of a dorsal fin tucked away in a cove, we drove the boat over to find out whose it was. About five adult and 2 young bottlenose were playing with fish. I slid in to film. The water was quite murky from recent wave action. Adults were seriously tearing through the fish and spinning around them. The babies, about 6 months old perhaps, were watching and had time to check me out. When one adult caught a fish, the others gathered around. I think that this isnt a usual prey and the others wondered what it tasted like. Both babies came to nurse their moms right after, which is in the video.
After the catch I saw that there were two sharks on the bottom, perhaps sand bar sharks, quickly turning back and forth over the reef.

Previous video of bottlenose playing with a fish ball...

Seeing dorsal fins popping up around the boat, we checked out what was going on. Below the boat we saw a huge dark cloud, turned out to be a fish ball. I got into the water to film.
Nine bottlenose dolphins were spending the morning playing with a school of fish. The dolphins weren't hunting, no open mouth attempts to catch the fish. The adult bots were doing what I was doing, scanning the bottom below us with long distance sonar beams. They created a safe playground for the young bottlenose.
The youngsters glided into and around the fish ball, stroking them almost and creating patterns. The fish didn't seem to mind the dolphins and the dolphins didn't seem to mind my presence. 
My camera memory ran out, doggoneit!  Later I found that most of my footage was out of focus unfortunately.
These fish are thought to be escapees from the nearby fish farm. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1-12-12 Cetacean Day

Pilot Whales, Humpbacks, Spinners & Spotteds

 The seas were vibrant with life!  Our guest on the boat trip noticed ‘rocks in the water,’ dorsal fins, half a mile outside the harbor as we approached humpbacks in the area.  A scattered pod of 10 or so pilot whales were lying at the calm surface, barely traveling northward.  There were a number of large males, distinguished by much larger dorsal fins than the females.  The first time I saw a large group of mixed males, females, & young, was with John Lilly off Maui.   I thought we were seeing two different species together, three including the bottlenose dolphins also in the crowd, because the fins were so disparate in size.

It is said that fifty percent of the time pilot whales are accompanied by Oceanic White Tip sharks swimming within half a mile behind them.  I have never seen sharks with the pilots.  Oceanics are reputed to be aggressive and have investigated, hit, several photographers I know in Hawaii.  Lee Tepley and I filmed a white tip at an offshore buoy for about 40 minutes before he got nervous as the shark circled closer. I was nervous the entire time, and that’s what photographing these large creatures entails, balancing control of irrational feelings and sensitivity to intuition.  My goal was to film Lee filming the shark, and we did get that shot, but I really wanted to have the shark between us, to get a better idea of its size, and that didn’t happen.

Pilot whales also have an aggressive reputation among fishermen in Hawaii.  By some reports they may attack spinner dolphins.  I’ve had quite comfortable encounters with them while in the water, and times I have huddled next to the boat and had others get immediately out of the water.  Check this video out!

This time, I stayed on the boat.

Revisiting the Humpback whales

then moving north to find the spinners, we were delayed by a pod of Spotted dolphins!

Spotted dolphins are sighted occasionally traveling with the spinners along the coastline.  This group was a little further offshore, also headed north.  It’s great seeing babies and there were a couple in this pod.  Here’s a mom and baby having fun on the bow of the boat…
A full day of Cetaceans before reaching the pod of Spinners!  Nice to let the sun warm us up first on this exceptionally clear and cool day. 

Love from Dolphinland,