Paddling With the Dolphins of Choctawhatchee Bay

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Dolphin checking me out on the standup paddleboard

Dolphin checking me out on the standup paddleboard

One of my favorite things to do after a long day at work is to take the paddleboard out for a couple of hours and paddle around the bayou. On special days like today, I’ll sometimes find myself amongst a pod of dolphin on the hunt. The Choctawhatchee Bay dolphins can frequently be found in the early morning and evening hours scouring the bay and bayous for food. If you’re on a quiet craft like a kayak or paddleboard, they will often come in close to check you out.

Mother dolphin with calf.

Mother dolphin with calf.

On this particular outing I paddled out to the mouth of the bayou to find the pod already in feeding mode. It was a sizeable pod for this area, numbering close to a dozen or so dolphins including a mother and calf. I glided into a good viewing position and settled in to enjoy the show. The first thing I noticed is the the mother and calf paired off to feed a fair distance from the rest of the actively hunting pod. The remaining pod members then broke into groups of two and three.

 

A dolphin dives back under near my SUP

A dolphin dives back under near my SUP

I watched as the working pods would move out and back, out and back, but never straying too far from our location. Occasionally the pods would seem to circle briefly in place as they worked a school of fish. More than once a couple of the more curious dolphins would pop up next to the board as if to say ‘Hi’ and then it was back to business. One of the more notable maneuvers were three dolphins racing forward in formation and then diving with a loud splash.

A dolphin showing some tail

A dolphin showing some tail

 

Mother and calf were having a fun time as well. The calf appeared to be fairly young and mother had her flippers full with teaching it and making sure it stayed well away from my paddleboard. The calf seemed to be more focused on playing and I even watched him jump a couple of times. After about an hour spent with my aquatic friends and with the sun sinking lower on the horizon, I decided that it was time to leave my peaceful friends and paddle back home. They certainly put a big smile on my face and definitely took the stress out of my hectic day.

About Beverly Hill

Beverly is a deputy clerk with the Florida court system and is an experienced writer in her free time. Her love of adventure and the outdoors is what fuels her desire to seek out new and exciting things.
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