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Tripppin In The Bahamas – Time For Bubbles

August 12, 2013

A continuation from my earlier post, http://wp.me/pKtoE-c9.

Blacktip Reef Shark

With the boat secure, and the gear on we were finally hitting the water. Everyone took their turn dropping in off the side of the boat and Lane and I were always the last to go. I took the boat keys with us on every dive to make sure we had a boat to come back to, but left the batteries on in case someone had to come up and radio for help. Once underwater the stress of finding the reef went away, as did every other stress in my life. The reef was beautiful and full of life. Everyone seemed to be doing well, and all the gear was working as planned. Since the dive was only 30 feet deep our bottom time would be somewhere around an hour. The beautiful fish swam by, and the onshore current moved the massive fans back and forth as if they were in a slow waltz with one another.

Everything seemed perfect, and right when you think you’re ready to call it a dive a wonderful 5-foot Blacktip Reef Shark comes cruising by. Now sharks aren’t a big deal for most of the group, but Catherine was a new diver and I wasn’t sure how she’d react to our new neighbor. I kept an eye on her, as did Lane and we moved on about our business. We managed to find this wonderful little system of holes in one of the coral heads so we all scooted through these large caverns and enjoyed the amazing visibility and clear water. Once we emerged from the caverns I saw the curious Blacktip still hanging out overhead. Blacktips are common in the Caribbean and they usually don’t present a problem to divers. I honestly enjoy diving with them because they are beautiful to watch, and pose little threat unless you’re bugging or spearfishing. This particular shark was a bit more excited than I’d like, and he seemed to be gaining interest with each passing minute.

No sooner was I watching this shark did I noticed another grey-ish creature swimming off in the distance. This one looked smaller, but the clear presence of a dorsal fin was a big sign that we may have a few more sharks in the area. I kept my eyes open, and sure enough I saw what looked to be a school of sharks. As these objects came closer it was clear that they were indeed numerous, grey, large and fit the profile of a shark. I thought to myself, this checkout dive just got serious. Little did I know that this dive was about to go down in my book as one of the best dives of my life. The numerous grey creatures turned out to be a very-popular pod of dolphins that are known for inhabiting the Sea Of Abaco. I almost spit my regulator out! I’ve never seen dolphins on a dive, and here I was looking at seven to eight adults and a juvenile. They came right up to the group, who at this point were flipping out. All of us just sat on the sandy bottom watching them swim around us. It was a truly magical experience watching these guys just swim by, look you in the eye and cruise around. Go figure that none of us had our cameras on the dive since this was only going to be a “checkout dive”. The dolphins eventually moved on and we’d exhausted our tanks, so everyone made it back up to the boat.

Abaco's Famous Dolphins
Credit: Explore.org

Once we were all back on deck the celebration began. No one could believe that we’d just seen a pod of dolphins, and a Blacktip on what was supposed to be our gear check dive. Celebratory beers were opened, stories were shared and the team celebrated our first dive in the Bahamas.

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