At sea, somewhere between Colombia and Panama
Over the crest of a wave three torpedo splashes in formation caught my eye. We had either encountered a derelict WWII U boat with an attitude or a pod of dolphin. I raised the alarm in either case. Fortunately it turned out to be the latter.
A dozen and a half spotted dolphin streaked toward us, then gleefully surrounded our vessel. They welcomed and entertained us with loops and arcs, shallow leaps and zig-zags, splashing and grinning. The dozen passengers on the Nacar 2 lined the forward railing, feet dangling in the trough of the waves to within inches of our marine escorts cavorting below.
Dolphins never fail to bring out the child in humans. For a full half an hour they transfixed us, eliciting delight from even the most implacable Swiss Germans in our mix. Little delfines kept pace, while solo performers wove their way amongst playful duos and trios.
Then, as one - in response to some imperceptible signal - they flashed off into the sun. No doubt they pinged one of the other veleros making the crossing to Panama today. Despite the special bond formed with the passengers of the Nacar 2, their SWCWA (Southwest Caribbean Welcoming Association) duties called them onward.
I've never seen Atlantic spotted dolphin in the wild before, despite many encounters with their free-spirited bottlenose cousins. Their distinctive markings were clearly visible against the cobalt depths, highlighted by large patches of mottled white on some of the larger adults. The captain says they don't see that variety very often. What a treat.
Now I'm scanning the waves for whales. The cook told me sightings are rare, but they did see some on a recent run, so I'm keeping my eye out.