Will we see dolphins today? That seems to be the question asked most often by divers on the way to the dive sights. Well, quite often dolphins are seen on the rides to and from French Cay, West Caicos, and Northwest Point in the Turks & Caicos Islands. We have also been fortunate enough to snorkel and scuba dive with both Bottlenosed dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins on several occasions.
Because of the nature of the reef systems with deep walls dropping into the abyss near areas like West Caicos, French Cay, and Northwest Point, we have had several opportunities to witness the playful antics of dolphins in the wild. On one scuba dive we encountered a pod of between 75 and 100 dolphins off West Caicos. They appear to enjoy playing in bow wakes and occasionally even jumping clear of the water.
I think our most memorable scuba diving and snorkeling experience occurred at West Caicos. We were conducting Discover Scuba Diving experiences with a group of teenage cancer survivors. Upon surfacing at the end of the dive, the crewmember on board told us that a pod of dolphins was moving in our direction. We moved away from the boat and soon they approached. There were eleven Atlantic Spotted Dolphins in a tight formation. Ten of the dolphins appeared to be protecting another dolphin in the center of the pod. They approached within about 5 to 10 feet of our group and appeared to be unconcerned with our presence. The individual in the center of the group was quivering. Periodically it would surface and forcefully slap its tail. We dove and snorkeled with them for about 20 minutes before they moved out to deeper water. After moving away, one individual jumped clear of the water.
Two days later, we returned to the same sight. Prior to mooring, we noticed a pod of dolphins on the surface. Upon approaching, they began to play in our bow wake. We then observed a larger adult with a much smaller juvenile next to it. We wondered if we had observed the birthing process and this juvenile was the result. What a memorable day of diving for those kids and us too!