Our tour of The Bahamas had us doing quite a bit of island hopping, using small planes to take us from one island to the next. This meant that there were a few non-diving days scheduled into our itinerary and one of these was on Bimini. So, what is there to do? Well we have always wanted to do one of the wild dolphin snorkel trips to see if we could get in the water and photograph Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that are famous residents here.
We jumped on the boat with our cameras and snorkeling gear and headed up to the top deck of the Bimini Scuba Centre boat to hear the briefing from Neal Watson, owner and our guide and skipper for the day. The trip out to the right area was going to take about 20 minutes and then it was time for everyone to start spotting.
There are actually two species of dolphin that spend their time just off the Bimini coastline, the aforementioned spotted kind and also Bottlenose Dolphins. Spotted dolphins are considered to be more “friendly” and so are the ones that can make for the best in-water experience, but when the first shout of dolphin rung out around the boat, it was for a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. We didn’t care; we grabbed our mask, fins and snorkels, as well as our cameras, and jumped off the back of the boat.
It was incredible! As soon as we put our heads in the water, we could hear the dolphins clicking and pointing their noses at the sandy sea bed below. They were using echo-location to find their prey buried beneath the sand. We watched them hunt beneath us. We thought that, as they were busy finding food, they would not be interested in us, but every time they came up to breathe, they would buzz past us, getting very close and having a good look at us. This lasted for about half an hour and then they were suddenly gone and we jumped back on the boat to begin a new search.
In just a few minutes, we were back in the water, again with more Bottlenose Dolphins and this group was even friendlier. The group had a mother and baby, who were not worried by us at all, and in fact the mother and baby came in very close to each of us in the water, which was a real treat.
We never did find any Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, as our experience in the water with the Bottlenose Dolphins was so magical, we did not want to leave and stayed for over an hour in the water, watching them play and hunt until it was time to head back to dry land. Our time in Bimini was up. Our short time on the island had given us up-close Great Hammerhead Shark encounters, wrecks and reefs, and also this wonderful wild dolphin experience. The tiny island packs a real punch for the underwater photographer!
We now move on to Andros to dive into blue holes, along walls… and to try some coral conservation work first hand.
For more information visit the following websites:
Image & text by Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown – www.frogfishphotography.com