So I finally dragged myself out for a shore dive. It's been a long time since I've gone diving in board shorts and a rash guard so that was a major plus! My D4 said the water was 87! Water was somewhat clean, a little hazy but at least 30ft of vis and super warm as I said. From shore I could see the shadow of what I was hoping to be a reef. This is all new territory to me so I was expecting this dive to be exploratory at best. Maybe spot a few bugs prior to mini-season in a little over a week. Maybe get real lucky and find a sleepy snapper or hogfish.
About five minutes after getting in, while I was still making the swim to the first reef, a flash or grey scared the shit out of me! Whew! Just a dolphin! After my experience up in Ft. Pierce a few weeks ago with dozens of hyped up over aggressive bull sharks I was a little hyper vigilant to say the least. No shark just a seriously curious bottle nose. It looked to be a younger dolphin. Definitely not full grown and it had a nasty scar on its tail forward of its flukes. Looked like a healed but gnarly bite.
I've had plenty of encounters with dolphins over the years. Most recently prior to this on Bill's boat near the Barn a few months back I had one nearly cause me to shart. Most times they just cruise up, check me out and then bail. Not this guy. He hung around for 20 minutes or more! Really friendly. He kept swimming up and stopping in front of me. I would waive my had and he would sort of shake his head and open his mouth slightly! I was still over the sand when I came upon him so I dove down to the bottom and blew a bubble ring to see what he would do. He circled around and then dove to the bottom and tossed a mouthful of sand! I was stunned! He continued to circle and follow me coming nearly close enough for me to touch. I found the reef after about ten minutes. Surprisingly it was pretty nice. Not the typical flat limestone slab reef but a bunch or boulders and good structure. Lots of little grey snappers and ornamentals. I made a few dives while my buddy was still hanging around and he continued to imitate me! I'd dive down and poke around in the rocks looking for a grouper and checking to see if any bugs were home.(yes indeed they were! Woohoo!) As soon as I would surface, he would dive down and poke around! Too cool! This went on for about 10 minutes and then he finally bugged out.
Not long after he bailed, I saw a legal female hog, but didn't shoot. I did see one nice mangrove maybe 5lbs but it was wise to me and bagged ass as soon as I tipped over to dive. I was a little under weighted which really made me work a lot harder than I should have in 20ft of water. Unfortunately, I never got a shot at a good fish. There were a few maybe legal snappers mixed into the schools but none big enough that I was confident enough to take a shot.
I circled that reef twice then went to check out the other close shadows and they turned out to be the more typical flat reefs with nothing but ornamentals and tiny snapper.
Next time I think I'm going to have to bring the GoPro.
Nice to have decent shore diving so close to home. I think I'll break out the kayak and cover some real ground...
That's pretty badass Matt, was it a bottlenose? I've seen dolphins here and once almost pulled the gun at one because it was crusing through the kelp bed in dirty water, thank goodness I didn't because I couldn't ID it when it first came through.
I'm jealous that you get to dive in warm clear water, wait till you visit back here and freeze your shit in the 52 degree white seabass water lol.
Smudge wrote:That's weird Bill. I seem to have seen dolphins all over the place. This is the first time I've had one stick with me for more than a minute...
It hardly seems possible. Just by chance I should have seen some.
Well, technically I guess I did see some one time. In the early 60s off of Kaneohe I jumped in next to a humpback whale and her calf, surrounded by a school of dolphins. The whales hung around, but all I saw was dolphin asses as they fled.
That's super cool Matt! The only dolphin I've ever seen was a bottlenose that I bumped into (almost literally) on the edge of the kelp in Santa Barbara. All I saw was a flash as it turned and bolted as soon as we saw each other.
Man do they ever. The worst dolphin scare I had was in the Spanish Channel down there. I was riding the planer board behind my buddies boat looking for coral heads during mini-season a few years ago. I knew the lemon sharks and bulls were in full effect in the channel, but I said screw it. The tide switched and the water started to get dirty when out of nowhere a dolphin came blasting up at me full speed. I yelped and damn near shit. He did the usual: "what are you doing stupid human?" look and then hauled ass. I got out of the water and drank a beer after that one...