The following was taken from Capt. Shannon Hoeckel’s blog, shortdriftcharters.blogspot.com.
A few days ago I headed out to Boca Grande Pass with my father to do some scouting for the charters I had the following weekend. It was early in the day, the air was a little cooler than usual and the sun was sparkling on the water. Everything seemed perfect for a great day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
We had been on the water for about two hours. It was a beautiful fall day in Florida, there was lots of bait and the fish were feeding. We were about a mile and a half offshore when I spotted something unusual in the water. It was small and whitish in color but it was a little too far away to see what it was so I told my dad to reel in his line and we headed off to check it out. What happened next was very unexpected!
I started the boat up and turned toward where I had seen the object in the water. As I got closer I realized that what we were seeing was a tiny light colored bottlenose dolphin floating on the surface so I slowed the boat to an idle speed as I approached, not wanting to interfere with whatever was happening in nature that day. Before we could get too close a large adult dolphin jumped out of the water in front of the boat and came crashing down. At about the same time another dolphin with a small calf did a high jump out of the water to our left, then another to our right. I had my eye on the tiny dolphin when what I believe was its mother came to the surface and gently pulled her baby under.
I suddenly realized what we were seeing so I stopped the boat immediately. We had encountered a pod of bottlenose dolphin dealing with tragedy in their family that day. The baby dolphin had died, perhaps at birth, and the mother was either trying to revive it or she was just trying to protect it from harm. We watched as she resurfaced over and over again, constantly nudging her offspring, attempting to breathe life back into the tiny creature. The rest of the family of dolphin were protecting her when they put themselves between my boat and the baby, jumping around us, racing up close to the boat, working hard to distract us from the mother and baby.
It was an amazingly sad and beautiful scene out there that day. Every day is an adventure when you are lucky enough to be on the water but some days are definitely more special than others.
I wished there was something I could have done but I know not to interfere with Mother Nature. It was just another one of those days that you feel lucky to be here on Planet Earth.
Tight Lines … Capt. Shannon Hoeckel
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