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We See Dolphins

29 Apr Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on We See Dolphins
We See Dolphins

It’s not an uncommon occurrence on the Shamrock: We’ll be motoring down Banks Channel, grooving on Bob Marley and investigating sandbars for rare birds, when one of the passengers shrieks and points at the water. “Dolphin!” they’ll say. “I just saw a dolphin!” The rest of the passengers immediately crowd to the railing. Captain Joe shuts off the engine and all is quiet as we drift with the tide, all eyes scanning the horizon for the telltale arc of a dorsal fin piercing the water. “There!” somebody shouts, and amongst ooohs and ahhs, a dolphin breaks the surface near the boat, sunlight reflecting off it’s sleek grey body before silently arcing back beneath the waves.

While we can never guarantee a sighting (despite our repeated attempts, dolphins don’t take reservations and have started screening our phone calls), we see dolphins onboard about one out of every three trips we take. It’s always a treat, and no matter how many times sightings occur we never tire of them. Often we’ll see these majestic animals swimming against the tide in Masonboro inlet, waiting for the currents to bring them a meal. Other times we can observe them working together to herd fish onto a shallow sandbar to make feeding easier. Once, when picking up a troop of Boy Scouts north of Second Beach, we saw a lone dolphin playing in a shallow natural bay, gallivanting around like a kid on Christmas, gorging himself on a hearty fish breakfast.

The kind of dolphins we commonly see in North Carolina waters are bottlenose dolphins, the same species as Flipper. They average eight to ten feet in length, and feed on several bottom-feeding fish, shrimp, and the occasional squid. Bottlenose dolphins, like all dolphins, find their way around the ocean and track their prey by using echolocation, a specialized natural sonar that uses reflected sound waves to determine the location, size, and shape of items around them. Remarkably quick for their size, dolphins have been clocked at speeds of over 18 miles an hour.

They are also highly intelligent creatures. Dolphins have displayed higher level cognitive processes such as improvisation, self-recognition, and creativity, and are also the only other animal, besides humans, that procreate for pleasure rather than necessity. They also use a variety of squeaks, squeals and clicks to communicate with their fellows in the pod. New research suggests that each dolphin, like each human, identifies with a unique signature of sounds, and can therefore refer to each other by name.

If you would like to see one of these gorgeous marine mammals in their natural habitat, then call Capt. Joe at 910 200 4002 to set up a tour. See you on the water!