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Date: 19 June 2014. Dolphin Visits.


[Posted late because I am in transit.]

While cruising along off the coast of west Florida I have been enjoying looking at the wildlife. Yesterday's shark [see Shark Changes Plans article] was well and good, but frankly not exactly my cup of Earl Grey or Bigelow's Constant Comment tea. Today was a much better day.

This is a beautiful area, and quite remote. I have seen zero boats today, though there are crab pot markers out here. Miles from shore, crab pots. There have been no fishermen out here and it has been quite lovely. You can almost imagine you are the only person on earth on days like today.

But I'm not alone!  There are schools of fish practically everywhere.

They are spotted by the disturbance at the top of the water.

What surprised me most was with all these fish at the surface, and even larger King Mackerel underneath, I did not see a single open console fishing boat out taking advantage of the situation!

Side Note: A local later told me the big silver fish I was seeing under the schools of fish were mackerel. When I looked in my fish book though, they sure looked like Yellowfin Tuna. The fish were big and looked thicker than mackerel.

Check out this huge school of fish:

Now just because I was the only boat out on the water does not mean I was alone. I spotted a Frigatebird which always delights me. These birds are big, and easy to identify with their sharp joints at the wings and forked tail. I took a picture from my Birds of North America book to show you. They are dark and do not flap their wings often.

According to my Birds of North America
guidebook, the frigatebird does not land on the water but instead skim the surface for fish. They also will rob gulls and terns in flight.

Old Nautical Lore: Generally not seen close to shore, should you start seeing frigatebirds (think three or more) flying inland, the weather is going to be foul.  Be aware, and set yourself up for stormy conditions.

As the day progressed, I was joined by a pod of three dolphin about 1900 hours. (That's 7 p.m.) These first three were a light grey color.

It was such fun to watch them play, chase fish (remember the schools of fish are all around me) and then come back in to swim at my bow.  Below the bubbles just to the right (starboard side of the boat) is one of the dolphin diving down.

Quite frankly, I was having just way too much fun!  It truly is amazing to see these wild creatures who chose to join me on my part of my journey. I am blessed.

There was a downside however:  because I was out of cell phone range I had no one to share the experience with.  It is times like this that make me wish I was cruising in tandem with another boat.

A few minutes later the grey dolphins disappeared. And just a bit later three more dolphin came by for a visit. These three were dark grey and played for a while before disappearing.

What a wonderful day I had.  Today I was all alone with my thoughts most of the day. I did not see a soul, nor did I hear a friendly voice. But there were visitors: a frigatebird, so many schools of fish I could not imagine counting, plus six dolphin joined me for a bit.

Life is great afloat, and I am blessed to be here.

Have you ever spent an entire day alone?
And, have you ever seen a frigatebird in person?  Where were you?

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Categories: Boat Talk, Books, Channel Markers of Life, Fishing, Vignettes, Wild Things

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