Monday, 19 December 2011

Dolphins and More

As you already know, we were out at sea for a few days, sailing from Freetown to Tema.  Along the way, we had the opportunity to spend time on the Bow of the ship, which is a wonderful, relaxing place on the sail.  Many people went there for the sea breeze, or the fact that if you were seasick it was less intense (like riding in the front seat of the car).  Some people went to the bow just to watch the endless ocean rush past, or to watch for the miriad of sea creatures.  Sometimes you could watch for hours, and see nothing but the occasional flying fish winging swiftly away from our oncoming ship.
Occasionally, you'd see jellyfish float by (only got blurry picures of those).  And once, only once, while I was out on the Bow, one of the girls spotted a sea turtle with it's head out of the water, and we all got to enjoy the sight of it swimming by!  But the true gems of the sea are the sea mammals.  And when dolphins or whales are spotted from the lookout point on the bridge, they would make what many claim is the best possible use of our PA system.  Only three times that I'm aware of on this voyage, they used it to announce the sea creatures going by, telling us where and when to watch for them.  Twice for whales.  Once for dolphins.

The first time was for Pilot Whales, which I ran to the starboard windows and saw their backs and fins arching out of the water, sending up plumes of water from their blowholes.  No pictures, they went by too fast.  The second time was barely enough time for me to get to the bow, and the whale(s) passed by too far away to get anything but the spray of water in a picture. 

Here are some friends enjoying the sunset and the whales going by.  The time they spotted dolphins, though... they said we had a pod about a nautical mile away and coming in fast.  I ran for my room and camera after a swift internal debate about whether I had time for it... sooooo glad I grabbed my camera. 
As soon as I stepped onto the bow, I could see them in the distance.  Hundreds of them.  All leaping and heading for the ship!

In ones, twos and threes, like sets of synchronized swimmers, they lept and showed off, until they reached the ship, where they dove under and surfaced on the other side.

Many decided to swim all around the bow, as though playing a game of trying to keep ahead of the ship.  Sometimes it was like they were dancing in random patterns through the water.

One even jumped and spun in the air beside the ship.  Grace and beauty in the water!  A small group of maybe 5 or 8 stayed with the ship for at least half an hour.  I think everyone found it to be one of the best events on the sail!!!

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