Thursday, August 30

First Dolphin Birth photographed in water - Ponta do Ouro!

Newborn emerging 
First Dolphin Birth photographed in water - Ponta do Ouro!

22 August 2012.

I was honored to be in the space of Mindi while she was calving! Here is what happened.

We located the large pod a little north who were just hanging out. After observing for a while we slipped into horribly green water yet again. I found myself trying hard to understand the sight before me and went from being intrigued at what I thought was an oversized penis to a large and dark remora. As my eyes finally focused through the murky water as i gazed upon the tail of Mindies emerging newborn. Instinctively I raised my arm and called the boat so as not to interfere with her birthing process by having guests in the water. She seemingly slowed as if knowing I was feeling extremely humbled to bear witness to this event. I had though that this would have been a group pod event with more dolphins around her, however she was only in the company of two other individuals. I managed to get a couple of images before swimming back to the boat. I have been observing and swimming with the Dolphins of Ponta for almost 20 years now and this was the first time I have witnessed a birth in the water! All those years of dedication finally paid off:-)

Sadly our time was running out and we had eager guests who wanted to swim with the dolphins, which resulted in us cutting this very profound and special observation short:-(

Being born Tail First

The tail with little pleats

Mom Mindi easily recognizable

Monday, August 13

Dolphin Diaries Ponta do Ouro Mozambique

Check in with dolphins we did, but see we did not....
In true essence of a long weekend, dolphin sightings dropped substantially.

After some 6 hours at sea on friday, The Dolphins of Ponta were no-were to be seen. Our finned friends were out of the area, either finding sanctuary in Kosi Bay or Techobanine (both closed off areas that are sure to offer solace from the increased tourism activities brought on by the south african woman's day long weekend). Unbelievable good conditions with sea state that only got better as the day progressed found us searching, searching, searching - to no avail.

We were however awed by multiple humpback whale sightings offshore together with great whale acoustics as we eves dropped in on them. A mere two humpback dolphins were spotted by the dolphin swim boat Kira.

Saturday morning found us launching in poor sea state, again with no dolphins. This resulted in us canceling the launches for the rest of the day! We just could not go through another day of disappointed peeps knowing that the chances of seeing our finned friends were poor. One less boat on the water could only help.

Sundays morning launches found not too bad sea state and a pod of fast swimming dolphins passed through us when we were snorkeling up north, however they were moving very fast and we chose not to peruse them, for the love of Dolfriends! 
One cannot blame the dolphins for their fleeing and I remember a day in the last school holidays were I sat and observed the dolphin boats working, servicing the dolphin swim industry. The conditions were perfect and dolphins were aplenty spending the good part of the morning in the bay between socializing, resting and hunting. As I sat and watched with wonder I could not help but feel alarmingly guilty and responsible for not being able to do more to protect our finned friends. An inner voice kept on screaming at me 'it's too much, it's too much' as I watched three operators (including ourselves), together with a multitude of other vessels traversing back and forth within the dolphins range. The dollies have not spent this much time in the bay since then.

As luck would have it, my early morning tea on dolphins deck found me jumping with joy as I saw the dolphins return to the bay today Check out the pics. There they were, relaxed and socializing on back-line. Few boats had launched and there were NO jetski's around. Murphy's law - we did not have enough peeps to go to sea today! All good though as it's great to give the dolphins a day off! 

Thursday, August 9

Dolphin Diaries Ponta do Ouro Mozambique

M&M with her shark scar & Gilly with her newbie

Gilly (left) with her newbie

Synchronized whale watching day found 18 sightings of whales in total. Sea state worsened during the day making it more difficult to spot the great ones. Needless to say by the time it was over i had round eye from gazing through the binoes the whole day! Mental note - next year no off-day for volunteers:-)

After being land based for a couple of days, it was refreshing to head out to sea yesterday morning. A great bunch of people accompanied by wonderful conditions was all we needed to have a good dolphin time!

We managed to get a little bit of data after the the SA dolphin boat had finished with the pod and I was overjoyed to have seen Gilly with a newborn nestled snugly between her and female M&M. At this stage the dollies were cruising across the border so the sighting was short to say the least. None the less my heart warmed to have seen Gilly - a longtime dolfriend that I have shared three of her offspring with. I wish her all the strength and protection in order to see this little one survive.

As luck would have it - pre-weeked blues hit and we lost the helm on our steering which resulted in some disappointed pees as we had no choice but to head home, curtting the second launch short. On closer inspection Mitch saw that the helm had corroded right through! Disaster management perused as he had to quickly arrange a spare which would take some 24hrs to get here which means no launching today!
Beautiful conditions and super flats seas are welcoming tourists who are flocking to Ponta do Ouro - Mozambique this weekend. Its a SA public holiday and we are expecting the crowds. 

My early morning scout from Dolphins Deck found humpback whales galore. Three different groups were spouting their way up north:-) Too beautiful for words. Derik from the next bay called in a pod of dolphins that were heading our way and at 07:50 I spotted the pod slowly ambling towards PDO with some splashing and play. They then disappeared and were spotted having turned around moving north and offshore.

Although we do not have a tour this weekend, I look forward to the next couple of days at sea, a time that we will use to check-up on the Dolphins of Ponta. Lets hope the weather holds and our wonderful tourists respect our finned friends when venturing to sea.

Saturday, August 4

Dolphin Diary
Ponta do Ouro - Mozambique

SWWD 2012 PDO, Mozambique. What  a view!
Aftern an agonizingly quite week we finally managed to get to sea today. By the time we had pushed in by 8am with a full boat of dolphin seekers, the north easterly wind was already picking up. If I had my way our launches would be welcoming in the sunrise while on the water, however this is wayyyyyyy to early for most people who prefer to sleep in on their holiday. I always like to say the early bird catches the worm, but alas our creator comforts take president.

Needless to say the early bird did not catch the worm today. Our trip up the coastline found none of our finned friends inshore so we had to settle for a pleasant shallow reef snorkel up in area f.

Today is Synchronized whale watching day! An annual event that finds pods of people along the african coastline counting humpback whales. The initiative was started by Matt from Samaki who is based up in Tanzania and 2012 is the fourth year running. The event is used to get an idea as to how many whales are seen on a particular day. I have uploaded last years report here for those of you that would like to find out more.

Due to the nature of our work in Ponta, we spend the first part of the morning at sea and when back on land spend the rest of the day peering through binoculars looking for blows, beaches, tail slaps, pec waves and anything else that signals there are whale's around.

Today was no different, after our inshore run along the coast going north, we then headed offshore for the southern run back home. During this time we spotted only two humpbacks traveling north. We picked up some sounds with the hydra-phone, however they whales sounded far away.

This year our observation platform rocks. The elevation is high which results in us being able to spot those offshore - horizon whales. Generally in Ponta do Ouro we find that our whales tend to migrate north very offshore, and while making their way back down the coast tend to come more inshore, which makes for easier viewing.

It's now 13;45 and  so far there have been 10 sightings.
The north easterly is up and whitecaps are a plenty. 

For the Love of Dolfriends!