Where to Watch Bottlenose Dolphins in Florida

The Dolphin Watcher's GuideI am excited to announce my new ebook: The Dolphin Watcher’s Guide to Southwest Florida.

I’ve been visiting Florida’s wild bottlenose dolphins for many years. During that time, I have found some wonderful spots and had some incredible encounters. I finally decided to publish this book and share some of these special places with others.

Many people believe they must sign up for captive swim-with-dolphins programs in order to get themselves (or their children) close to these amazing animals. Those dolphins are usually kept in pools or large tanks. I’ve been watching wild dolphins with my family for more than 20 years, and I can tell you that is certainly not the case. Wild dolphin watching is easy — if you know where to look!

The Dolphin Watcher’s Guide to Southwest Florida covers dozens of specific dolphin watching sites along the Florida Gulf Coast from Casey Key to Marco Island.  There are both land-based and water-based locations included. The book also emphasizes how to watch dolphins safely and without doing harm. If you’ve always dreamed of spending time with free and wild dolphins, you will enjoy this guide.

This new ebook is available on Amazon.com. It can be read on the Kindle e-reader and through the free Kindle App for the iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, and other devices.

Feel free to spread the word to any of your dolphin or Florida loving friends. Thanks!

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The Versatile Blogger Award for Where the Dolphins Swim!

Well, how fun is this! Today I woke to a note from a fellow blogger telling me I had been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. What a nice thing to do!

In order to accept the award, there are certain guidelines to follow. They include thanking the person who nominated you, telling a bit about yourself, and listing other blogs you admire and enjoy — so here goes!

Thank you to Musings of a Horse Mom at http://shakespearesgal.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for this award! Musings of a Horse Mom is a wonderful blog about horses and the people who love them.

7 Things About Me

1. I plan every single vacation around nature and wildlife watching.

2. I cannot imagine living far from the ocean.

3. I do not enjoy winter.

4. I provide management consulting to non profits, with a focus on at-risk youth and people with developmental disabilities.

5. I collect Arts and Crafts pottery.

6. I balance my checkbook to the penny.

7. I wake up really early.

Blogs I Like

In no particular order, here are some blogs I enjoy and admire. Some of these blogs have received numerous awards already!

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com – This guy is super intelligent, hysterically funny, and incredibly knowledgeable about living life to the fullest.

http://crazytraintotinkytown.com – A quite witty blog about life. Love her writing style.

http://galenleeds.com/ – A wildlife kayak photography blog by a very talented photographer. The blog header is simply amazing!

http://dolphinexplorerchronicles.typepad.com/ – The work conducted by the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project team in Southwest Florida.

http://awindowintothewoods.com/ – An author and nature photographer with gorgeous photos. I especially love the ones of deer.

http://naturetime.wordpress.com – Gorgeous nature photography. The Florida pictures are great.

http://sistersoftheperpetuallydissatisfied.blogspot.com/ – A refreshingly honest and introspective blog.

http://chicks-with-ticks.com/ – A wonderful outdoor adventures blog for women.

http://rescue.neaq.org/ – The NE Aquarium’s Marine Rescue Animal Team’s updates.

http://cyberwhalewarrior.com/ – This guy pulls no punches when it comes to advocating for marine mammals.

http://nmlc.org/ – The work of the National Marine Life Center in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

http://championsforcetaceans.com/ – A great site to learn about the plight of marine mammals around the world.

Thanks again to Musings of a Horse Mom!

Jo Anne

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Dolphins not Chocolates for Valentine’s Day!

English: A Russell Stovers box of milk chocolates.

English: A Russell Stovers box of milk chocolates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or this?

Dolphin in wake close up picture

Who needs flowers and chocolates? I cannot imagine anything more romantic than spending Valentine’s Day watching wild dolphins in Southwest Florida! Apparently, I am not alone. I was interviewed recently by Anne Claire Shilton for a news article in the Fort Myers News Press. Her fun and informative piece titled “Do the wildlife thing on Valentine’s Day” covers several romantic outings that involve spending time with nature and wildlife. One of the suggested ideas is dolphin watching. Although they all sound terrific, I am sticking with the dolphins! 🙂

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Dolphins Form Life Raft to Help Sick Friend!

Several years ago, two Atlantic White-sided dolphins showed up literally behind my house! At first, the neighbors and I were so thrilled to see them. This is not a common occurrence where I live.

We quickly learned these dolphins generally do not spend time in shallow bays and that something was terribly wrong. While waiting for the aquarium’s marine mammal team to arrive, I noticed the dolphins were acting strange. One seemed to be repeatedly diving below the other dolphin and raising his/her companion out of the water a bit. It became apparent that one dolphin was assisting the other to breathe.  He/she was trying to help by lifting the dolphin high enough so the blowhole would break the surface. This went on and on, until the second dolphin could no longer be seen.

The aquarium arrived and the story has an even sadder end. The “helper” dolphin was euthanized for reasons I still do not fully understand. Perhaps his/her health was severely compromised by the stress, or maybe both dolphins suffered from the same illness. Perhaps the aquarium does not have the facilities to care for sick marine mammals.

I thought I would tell this story in light of the remarkable dolphin research footage that has been publicized recently. In the East Sea of South Korea, several Cetacean Research Institute staff observed and filmed dolphins forming a “life raft” to assist a sick member of the pod. The group of dolphins literally lined up next to one another and worked to keep the female dolphin upright and in a position where she could breathe.

Throughout history, there have been countless stories of dolphins helping and caring for one another. Apparently, this is the first time a group of dolphins has been seen working together to help a sick or injured pod member. It is a very beautiful and enlightening video, and one that depicts true compassion. I think you will be impressed by what you watch. I have to warn you that it has a sad ending, too.

Check out this informative article by Discovery News that gives additional details:  http://news.discovery.com/animals/whales-dolphins/dolphins-create-raft-for-one-of-their-own-230130.htm

Also, if you would like even more information, here is a link to the just published research article in the Marine Mammal Science journal: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12012/abstract

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Injured Dolphin Asks Divers for Help in Hawaii

This is truly one of the most beautiful and moving stories I have heard or seen in a long time. A few days ago, an injured dolphin approached divers in what appeared to be a plea for help. The incident took place during a manta ray dive in Kona, Hawaii. The poor dolphin’s flipper was wrapped in fishing line and appeared to have a hook stuck as well.

When you watch this video, you will see there is no doubt the dolphin was asking for help. One of the divers immediately noticed the fishing line and began cutting away at it. What is really amazing is how patiently and trustingly the dolphin waits for the diver to cut the line. He/she actually maneuvers around so the diver can access the injured flipper! At one point, the dolphin surfaces for air but then immediately returns to find the helpful diver.

This is how our relationship with dolphins should be — one built on mutual trust and respect. I know I have been on a video kick lately and this video is a bit long, but trust me that it is worth viewing! You can’t help but be moved by the beauty of this encounter.

If you are short on time, start at about 3:30 in the video. Enjoy!

This encounter was filmed on a dive with Ocean Wings Hawaii.

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Dolphins Will Paint You a Picture in Las Vegas

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time when I was blissfully unaware of the plight of captive dolphins. I wish I did not know about the often inhumane way dolphins are treated.

I recently came across a video showing a captive bottlenose dolphin who will “paint” you a picture at the Mirage in Las Vegas. This dolphin experience is part of Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.  The habitat was supposedly designed to “create a safe environment – an environment in which these animals could live in serenity.” Yet, for the paltry price of $199 you get a work of art created by an animal who is coerced to perform tricks for your enjoyment. It feels so wrong to force them to perform like this, all in the name of conservation and education.

Although many people will be excited to have this up-close encounter with the dolphins, it just makes me incredibly sad…

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