Pilot Whales, Dolphins, Sharks and more!
We finally made it back to Utila after spending the past couple months bouncing around Roatán, Belize and Cayos Cochinos living the City Dogs dream. And we have to say, the Rock is just as amazing as ever, with the hardworking crew at UDC providing amazing experiences as if they are quotidian!
First dive we did was off the north side of the island and we did a nice, easy, mellow drift along the coral wall, running into a big female nurse shark who went right up to the fins of our guide as if they were bait. Mary kicked a couple times and the nurse shark went away, the behavior was odd, but as we’ve written about previously, there have been some strange behaviors since lionfish hunters started feeding big things like nurse sharks and moray eels dead lionfish from their hooks in order to attempt to get the population of the invasive species under control.
We had a nice dive, no videos of the nurse shark because GASP our memory card starting beeping indicating it was full just into the dive. When we came back up to the boat Captain Joe was all excited, he’d seen dolphins so once everyone was up we went off dolphin hunting and before long, we were all jumping off the back of the boat into the water with a huge group of like 15-20 rough-toothed dolphins. It was an amazing experience, with the rough-toothed dolphins clearly interested in checking us out, circling around us in a curious, playful manner.
Before our second dive, while we were still technically on our surface interval, Captain Joe got really excited -- the course director was even more excited. Turned out to be a pod of pilot whales out for a later-morning swim. They were just as playful as the dolphins, circling around the snorkelers and the boat, jumping out of the water, speeding up to catch the wake of the boat, even swimming upside down. People who have been on the island for decades have never seen pilot whales acting playful like this -- so instead of just a rare encounter -- City Dogs ended up being treated to an almost unprecedented one.
Our second dive was another calm, easy current drift dive off the north side of the island, following the coral wall. In a sandy channel we ran into a couple of really big stingrays who were not happy about being found -- and we spotted a few lionfish tucked in here and there -- but aside from that we didn’t run into much big stuff. There were tons of small fish, and loads of amazing, vibrant coral.
I don’t want to talk about the bleaching I saw, this post is supposed to be one that remains upbeat, highlighting the best of what is possible -- but I would be remiss if I didn’t notice the distressed bleaching that is a sign of impending coral death all over the place on the north side of the island. I’m not saying it’s going to die today or tomorrow or next week or month -- most of the coral I’ve seen is healthy, colorful, full of vitality and life -- but there is a sense that disaster is looming, that there is a very real sword of damocles hanging over not just one section of coral reef on one small island in Honduras, but rather, over every coral reef in every segment of the one ocean that connects life on the entire planet.mary
If we don’t collectively do something about climate change -- about global warming -- then our children or our grandchildren will certainly not no anything about one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They’ll just know fields of dead coral, huge landscapes of lifeless husks adorning the ocean floor as far as the eye can see, devoid of color, without any of the wildly varied life that should be thriving down there. Sorry for the rant, but you can’t live out here and see the change from month to month and sit on the fence. You have to do something, even if that something is only a passing mention at the end of your blog. If it gets one person to think, just for a moment about the environment, about whether the place for people is always bigger, always more, then I’ll not consider these words wasted.
Do get out there and see the reef before it’s gone.