This weekend, a big group of us headed to the tiny pier at Puerto Jimenez to go on a Dolphin and Mangrove tour in the Golfo Dulce. Golfo Dulce means ‘sweet gulf’, apparently so named because the huge amount of fresh water streaming into the sea from the surrounding areas has turned the water sweet. After testing this story, I can confirm that the water is still actually really salty, but at least the time we had was super sweet!
We got up early, slapped on copious amounts of sun cream (not enough), and were soon zooming through the waves, eyes peeled for dolphins. Heading towards the Piedras Blancas national park on the opposite side of the gulf, we spotted in the distance some dolphins leaping out of the water. They were jumping incredibly high, what seemed like five metres into the air, and flopped back into the sea.
Our guide, Josh, told us that these were the smaller kind of dolphin found here, Tropical Spotted Dolphins, and they can be found in super-pods of up to 100. We drove towards them, and were lucky enough to spot a huge group of maybe 50. Although it’s illegal to swim with dolphins here, we got to see them really close because they aren’t afraid of humans. They swam all around the boat, racing the stern, and surfing through the waves created at the bow. It was an amazing experience!
Once the dolphins left us, we snorkelled along the Piedras Blancas shelf, amongst a reef of Brain Coral. Pelicans flapped above us, and feeding off the fish that swam around us. We ate up a load of snacks – fruit, biscuits, and crisps – while crossing the bay to reach the mangroves. Inside the mangrove forest, we saw a tree full of beautiful, pink Roseated Spoonbills which decided to poo just as we drove beneath them… lovely! Fortunately, we were spared.
Eventually, sunburnt and tired, it was time to head back to the pier. We were all looking forward to our next tour, as Josh told us that we are approaching the season for spotting breeding Humpback whales. Then, just as we were all nodding off, we spotted some even larger fins by the port. It was a couple of Bottlenose Dolphins: Flipper and a friend! They didn’t stay for long, but it was a perfect way to round off a fantastic day.
By George Shankar, Field Communications Officer
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