Bimini 2016: Day 3 – Dolphins spotted! (Also, spotted dolphins)

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Yesterday was my first time snorkeling since I was probably six years old. While we didn’t have good luck finding dolphins, it was good to start getting acclimated to the water before trying to trying to photograph them. (Not that I felt particularly prepared, just more experience than zero.)

The other thing I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post… motion sickness. I’d listed ginger pills and/or Dramamine as things to pack, but I hadn’t gone further than that in the narrative. Knock on wood, I’ve never vomited from motion sickness before. Yesterday was the closest I’ve ever gotten, however, and several people were not so fortunate. It made for a rough start to the week.

Also: I mentioned that you should reapply sunblock on schedule. Yeah, pay close attention to where your hands, feet, and other body parts rub against clothing or parts of the boat, and reapply frequently. I didn’t take any pictures, but you’ll have to trust me when I say that the backs of my hands, down to the first knuckle, were reddish-purple from sunburn. It wasn’t pleasant.

So, with that to set the scene, it’s time to head back out to look for dolphins again. The formula remained the same. Early morning yoga (for those who could roust themselves at 7:30), breakfast, packing lunch boxes, and a bit of time to relax before heading out around 11:30.

Our first stop was Shell Beach, not too far from the channel we pass through to reach the west side of the islands. As you can imagine, it was named this because of the large number of shells you can find on the beach. Shocking, I know.

So, after a rough first day on the boat, it was time to get back in the water and face fears and sunburn again. This is how we grow.

This is me, getting ready to swim to shore, and questioning life decisions. (Atmoji Photography)

This is me, getting ready to swim to shore, and questioning life decisions. (Atmoji Photography)

One small snag. The water today was… occupied.

I’ve taken photos of jellyfish in captivity from time to time, but there was always a thick piece of glass between me and them.

This time, it was a lot closer, and much more personal. And there were a whole lot of them.

 (Warren Schultz)

Moon jellyfish. Lots and lots of them. (Warren Schultz) Buy this photo

 

According to the WildQuest staff, this was the first week they had shown up this season. Lucky us. As you can see in the video, it wasn’t just a few. Fortunately, their stings aren’t too bad (I’d equate it to what it feels like when you have a really spicy pepper “burning” your tongue), although some people had worse reactions, so YMMV. I cut the scene where I got stung, as the camera was even more jerky than normal. (I felt the sting, and when it didn’t get better, I looked down and found the little jerk was taking a free ride on my bicep.)

In between the boat and the beach lies a coral reef, which is where I actually planned to spend most of my time. One of the first things I spotted was this little Spanish hogfish cruising around. So I decided to try to get a few photos, and maybe some video. I figured it was good practice, if nothing else.

(Oh yeah, and feel free to let me know if I’ve misidentified anything. I’ll be glad to update the photos/post!)

At the time, I noticed that there was another fish nearby, but it looked similar to another fish I’d seen on the swim in that I recognized as benign.

However, as I edited the photo to post here, I realized it was not  the same type of fish.

Spanish Hogfish and Barracuda. (Warren Schultz)

Spanish Hogfish and Barracuda. (Warren Schultz) Buy this photo

Yup, look in the top right. A bonus barracuda! Just what everyone swimming in the ocean wants to see. I’d already skipped past that part of the video during edits, but went back, and sure enough, there he was. Just cruising around. Fortunately, it was a little one, and he was just as happy to get out of my way. Glad I didn’t have anything shiny on me at the time.

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering… that clack-clack-clack sound is the Canon 7D Mk II in the housing shooting in 10FPS mode. With the GoPro bolted straight to the camera housing, it sounds like I’m shooting a machine gun at the fish, and that’s with the volume turned down over 50% on the video.

Psychotic carnivorous fish aside, it was time to explore the reef.

 

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