This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘A Numbers Game.’ See more responses here. I put all my fingers and thumbs to work for my response, starting with ten Sheep in formation (and ten Cattle Egrets, too, as a bonus).
Next we have nine Spinner Dolphins playing, eight Wild Pigs foraging, seven Cattle Egrets heading to work.
Then there’s six Dung Beetles at work, five Black Triggerfish feeling blue, four Japanese White-eyes bathing.
And finally, three Horses watching, two Hawaiian Monk Seals resting, and one Pueo anticipating zero and lifting off.
A couple of mornings ago, I was about to get in the water when I noticed something out in the bay. After a few moments, I realized they were dolphins, and they didn’t appear to be in a hurry to get anywhere. Often, dolphins zip up or down the coast and, even if I’m out there when they go by, it’s a fleeting encounter.
But when they move slowly, as they were on this day, there’s a fair chance they might hang around. So I jumped in and swam out in the general direction of where they were heading, hoping to cross paths. Each time I popped up to try and locate them, they were still there. Soon I saw the first one and then they were all around me.
After several minutes they headed back the way they came, but still in no great hurry. I followed at my own pace. There’s no way I could keep up with them and I knew my main chance of seeing them again was if they turned back my way. This they duly did.
The dolphins remained in the bay for half an hour or more, going back and forth. A few leapt out of the water as spinners do, but under water they twisted and turned and just seemed to be having a good time. It was nice to see several youngsters among them. Eventually, they took off in the direction they’d been going when I first saw them and I swam back to shore.
These are some of the photos I took during the encounter. I had one photo with 45 or so dolphins in it and I know I didn’t capture all of them. I think there were probably 50 or 60 dolphins in the pod, possibly more. It’s only the fourth time I’ve encountered a pod that size and it’s a wonderful experience that will never got old.
This week’s Sunday Stills color challenge theme is ‘Teal or Aqua.’ See more responses here. I’m going underwater for a selection of aquatic aquas.
The top photo shows what happens when divers have too much time on their hands.
Next, we have some Square-spot Goatfishes and a few Orangeband Surgeonfishes meandering over a patch of sand. Then a Bullethead Parrotfish displaying a variety of colors. And a shoal of Hawaiian Silversides going hither and yon over a rocky bottom.
Finally, a couple of Spinner Dolphin photos, where they swam below me over an aqua background.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Wildlife.’ See more responses here. I thought I’d go with a couple of photos from the air, on land, and in the ocean.
First up, a couple of native Hawaiian birds, a palila above and a pueo below.
Next, a group of goats blocking a trail in South Kona, above, and a wild pig snaffles a mango and runs off with its prize, below.
Finally, a pod of spinner dolphins that I encountered in the wild while snorkeling. This scene was made more poignant for me by having recently seen dolphins in a small pool doing their thing for tourists at one of the resorts here. I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo of that.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘2021 in Your Rear-View Mirror.’ See more responses here. I’ve gone with a favorite photo from each month of 2021, with a caption and link to the post the photo first appeared in.
I’ve seen spinner dolphins on several occasions lately, both from the shore and in the water. But each time I’ve seen them, they haven’t been hanging around, but heading from A to B with purpose. In such situations, I mostly hope some will pass by close enough for me to get a photo or two.
On this occasion, the top photo shows a group passing by on my seaward side. Then I turned and captured the bottom group zipping by between me and the shore. A week or so later, another pod passed by, but the water was murky and the views not great. But then a few stragglers passed quite close and the reason for their relative sloth became clear; there were a couple of baby dolphins not yet able to keep up with the speeding main pod.
However, I didn’t get photos of them because my camera wasn’t working. A short while later, it suddenly recovered, but the episode illustrated the increasingly erratic behavior of the camera. Finally, a few days ago, it got to the point where it seems to have irretrievably given up the ghost.
The next time I went for a swim, it seemed odd not to have a camera in my hand. I’ve already ordered a replacement, which I hope arrives speedily. In the meantime, I’m nervous about going snorkeling, afraid that I’m going to have one of those once-in-a-lifetime encounters with no photographic record!
A couple more photos from my dolphin swim at the end March, for Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.)
Dolphins are bright in a couple of ways. They appear to be quite intelligent. One thing I noticed during this encounter was how much clicking noise the dolphins were making. It was more or less continuous. The clicking is basically the dolphin’s sonar, and it’s how they keep track of each other and their surroundings. It’s very precise and accurate.
Also, the markings of spinner dolphins in Hawaii differ from those elsewhere, which tend to be a more uniform gray. Hawaii’s spinners are only gray on top, with a pearly band along their sides, and a bright white underside, as prominently displayed by the dolphin in the center of the lower photo, showing off for the camera (possibly).
On Saturday, my wife and I got going early and went snorkeling. There was some swell rolling in and the visibility wasn’t great, but that had been the case the day before and we’d been pleasantly surprised to find that it was much clearer farther out. So we swam out, angling to the north.
Suddenly, I saw something coming past me from the other direction. I pointed to it and turned to my wife, only to see her doing the same thing. It quickly became clear that these were spinner dolphins, about 15 or so we thought. A couple of them seemed interested in checking us out, but quickly the pod continued heading south.
It’s fairly common for dolphins to swim past the bay we were in, probably heading to the place they’re going to rest during the day. But after this pod passed, they stayed underwater for a while. Before they disappeared, their direction was somewhat into the bay, and I was curious where they’d resurface.
We swam back the way we’d come, popping up frequently to see if we could spot them. Sure enough, after a few minutes, we not only saw fins in the bay, but that they were coming our way. I got my camera ready and out of the hazy water the dolphins emerged. There were a lot more than we first thought. They swept beneath us and around us, hanging out for a short while, before taking off to the northwest. We watched them go, thrilled to have had this encounter.
A little later, as I was heading back into the bay, I looked up to see another snorkeler followed by a cluster of fins. The dolphins hadn’t gone away! They’d doubled back again. I swam slowly in their general direction. There was no point rushing. If the dolphins came my way, fine. If not, I was never going to be able to catch up with them even if I wanted to.
Sure enough, the dolphins came rocketing by, and for the next 10 or 15 minutes they zipped around the bay. I mostly stayed in the center of the bay, not trying to chase, and there was no need to. I’d watch a group whizzing by, see them recede, then turn around and spot another group coming my way. They were very active, twisting around each other as they swam, soaring up and down. When I’d see them heading for the surface, I popped up, hoping to get a photo of one spinning up into the air, but I didn’t see any doing that on this occasion.
After a while, the dolphins moved away from where I was and I decided to head in. My wife and I thought there must have been at least 30 dolphins in the bay, perhaps more. When I looked at my photos, I saw that in one of them (the bottom photo), I could identify at least 40 dolphins, and I knew I hadn’t taken a photo of all of them. Probably there were 50 or 60, though I joked that after a few years of recalling this encounter the pod would likely be well into the hundreds!
One thing I can say with some certainty, is that swimming with dolphins never gets old for anyone. It’s always a thrill to spend a little time with these wonderful creatures in their natural environment.