Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dolphin Reef

Dolphin Reef
May 3, 2008
coordinates 24 10.157N, 035 40.521E

We departed from Ras Banas early in the morning when we awoke to the feeling of no wind. After so many days of consistent 25 to 35 knots it was a bit eerie. Traveling up the Red Sea is a bit like that game Red Light/Green Light that you played as a kid. Mother Nature is "it" and when she turns her back and fails to blow winds against you, you run like the dickens, when she turns back around and begins to throw her glances at you, you freeze right where you are and hope your not out. When she wasn't
looking we made our next dash up to Port Ghalib or Marsa Alam, but not before a quick stop in Dolphin Reef for one of supreme experiences of our entire lives. Mother Nature took a quick look at us and sent a bit more wind than we wanted to beat against so we took a quick stop in here and thank goodness for her.

As the name suggested, dolphins frequent this small bay created entirely out of submerged reef. No ground to stand on but very protected. We were fortunate that there was a large pod to numerous to count swimming within the boundaries when we dropped anchor, so we quickly donned out snorkel gear and took a swim with them. I do mean "with them". Scores of them were everywhere, calmly swirling around in only 20 - 30 feet of water. They didn't run away from us but they kept their distance initially.
As a smaller pods of them would pass by you a sentinel of sorts would break off to swim around you and check you out. They certainly were curious about us, but I don't think we are anything new to them as many, many boats stop in here and take a dive. I have heard though that some people have waited 4 days and never seen them so still we were feeling eternally blessed. It was nothing short of miraculous to watch them in their home, their own environment, no trainers, no tricks. Big ones, little
ones, mommies and babies, entire pods over us, under us, and we even had the great fortune to watch them mating. As two would begin their enticing dance together, two more would swirl around them, maybe to keep others away, we don't know. They would swim so close that we would swim with outstretched arms in hopes of just once, feeling that smooth rubbery skin but just as you were sure you were about to connect they would wiggle just out of reach. I swear they would look back at you with a twinkle
in their eye. But then it happened, as we each broke off from each other a bit in our snorkeling, nearly each person had the same experience of being encircled by 1 to 3 dolphins. As you held perfectly still, floating there they would swim tighter and tighter around you and then you realized they wanted to be touched. Our hearts began racing, as you held your hand out they continually ran their bodies under your touch, to be rubbed over and over like a cat rubbing against your leg. We could only
marvel at how comfortable they were with us and thank them over and over for the experience. It seemed to go on forever in that moment and we never wanted it to end. And then they moved on. When the adrenaline slowed it's flow did we only realize how long we had been in the water and just how cold we were.

We gathered ourselves up and back to the boats, pulled up anchor and as the sun set picked our way out of the coral to head on to our next destination, pinching ourselves all the way in hopes that what had just happened was not a dream.
until next time,
your Ohana Kai crew

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, what a stunning report. We had a similar experience in Fernando de Noronha in Brazils north many years ago but what you so elquently described is the pinnacle of dolphin epxeriences. I love to read you - keep up the great work.

Love from all on board DIVA who will now be delivered to Brazil for a season! Will keep you posted. 18.5.08 Mark