Wild About Dolphins, Wild Dolphin
Key West, Florida
By Brian Faso
"Journey to the Dolphin Playgrounds, snorkel coral reefs and
explore the backcountry of Key West." At Wild about Dolphins,
you can experience the natural world of the wild dolphins of the
Florida Keys. Don't worry about your towels, sunscreen, snorkel
gear or drinks, just get your bathing suit and get down to Key West
and see the dolphins as you have never seen them before as Captain
Sheri Sullenger takes you to see the dolphins in their home.
My wife and I made our way North from Key West to mile marker 5
to visit Wild about Dolphins. We arrived at 7:30 AM to meet with
Captain Sheri to find out some information about the tour that morning.
We were greeted with a smile from all the fishermen preparing for
the day at the Ocean Side Marina. Captain Sheri provided all the
information about the tour, as soon as we asked, nicely laid out
for even my understanding. At 7:45 we signed release forms to ensure
our safety on the day's adventure as Sheri pulled around the dock
in a beautiful 23 and 1/2 foot- Aqua Sport Boat, with a 225 4-stroke
engine called Amazing Grace (it was my dream boat!).
We left the dock at 8:00 AM with high hopes of seeing the Florida
Dolphins in their natural environment. Sheri informed us that there
was a 98% chance of finding the dolphins on a beautiful May morning
such as on May 18th. In the winter and on windy days, it can be
a bit more difficult to spot the dolphins due to the rougher waters.
This morning was beautiful and calm, so we were all anticipating
seeing the dolphins soon.
We cut through the glass-like waters on our way to the Barrier Reef.
On the journey we saw many graceful birds flying through the air
of many different shapes and sizes. The Off Spray and the Frigate
Bird were most popular as we observed them diving for breakfast.
I was never much of a bird watcher, but this morning was different.
Captain Sheri told us to look for the Frigate Birds diving for fish
because many times they are trailing the dolphins as they feed.
This time the birds were all alone, no dolphins yet.
As we made are way towards the "dolphin playground" area,
we saw many Tarpon, sea turtles and even a shark! Don't worry, the
shark was only about four feet long. We continued to cruise for
about ten minutes before we passed a floating personal resort. Yes,
a floating resort! This was a one bedroom little floating bamboo
cottage that can be rented for the evening through one of the local
resorts. It is called a "BOATEL", and is one of the new
features that you will only find in Key West.
time was now almost 9:00 AM, we had left the docks about 45 minutes
ago but we had not seen any dolphin. I was already having a great
time and we did not even see what we were supposed to see, YET.
At around this time we had reached the Dolphin Playground and the
fun was really about to begin! Captain Sheri informed us that the
dolphins would normally recognize her boat from the sound of her
engine, but the engine was new so she was not sure if they would
come out right away. At this point Sheri told us all to keep our
eyes peeled as she played her "Signature Song." At that
very moment she played an aquatic version of Amazing Grace, and
within seconds the dolphin were popping up all around the boat!
They were beautiful! There were at least three groups of about three
dolphins swimming around the boat as if to say hello.
were so graceful as they played and fed along side of the boat.
They all seemed to work together in what ever task they were trying
to accomplish. We followed the dolphins for about 30 minutes before
we were given the sign (blowing water) that they were busy fishing.
When a dolphin blows water it means they are busy, when it smacks
it's tail it is telling you to leave, and when it turns over and
smacks it's tail it means you are really bothering them and they
want you to leave immediately. Captain Sheri instantly respected
the dolphins' sign and took us away from the fishing area towards
the barrier reef. At the reef we were provided with snorkel gear
and a light lunch. The snorkeling was exciting.
Different from anywhere I have ever snorkeled, we were out in the
middle of the ocean with very little land within a mile. It really
made you feel that you were experiencing the natural ocean life.
The reef was amazing and the fish were not shy. We got to swim up
close and personal with the Parrot Fish and all of the other tropical
fish that calls this Barrier Reef off of Key West home.
snorkeling and a light lunch we headed back towards the shore. As
we passed the dolphin playground we were greeted by another group
of four dolphins that swam with us, surfing the bow wake. They stayed
with us for about 30 seconds before a larger vessel came by with
a larger bow wake to surf. The dolphin swimming in the Florida Keys is something to see.
We made it back to the docks at about 1:00 PM. It was a beautiful
morning full of excitement and adventure, and we still had the whole
day ahead of us. The journey to the Dolphin Playgrounds and snorkeling
the coral reefs of Key West was a great day trip. At Wild about
Dolphins, Captain Sheri Sullenger takes you to experience the natural
world of the wild dolphins of the Florida Keys and see the dolphins
as you have never seen them before.
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Wild About Dolphins
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