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By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide

Seeing wild dolphins has, for many, been an unforgettable experience. One they never forgot and told their children, friends and family about. Some even have planned their vacations in areas where they knew encounters were possible. Puerto Vallarta's extraordinary Bay of Banderas is no exception as we have a great variety of sea life including 3 species of dolphins.


The first and most common is the Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), commonly know to all as Flipper in the popular old TV show. We actually have the honor of hosting a resident coastal population of Bottlenose dolphins right here in our Bay. The second is a visitor to our temperate waters at this time of year and is the Spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), slightly smaller in size but beautiful none the less. And third but not least and also a visitor, is the Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), the most acrobatic of all dolphins as it can leap up to 10 feet in the air and is the only dolphin species who can rotate on its longitudinal axis up to 7 time while in mid air!


Any of these 3 species may be seen leaping, swimming or surfing the waves created by boats. Reproduction time for Bottlenose dolphins is late spring / early summer and fall, during which time new born babies may be seen swimming and playing next to mommy. An opportunity worth taking!

Most of the boats used for Dolphin encounters are small, generally of 8 to 10 people per boat. You may encounter females with their newborns as many gave birth this last fall., a small group foraging for food, trios, pairs or even groups of hundred and hundreds of dolphins gathered together, swimming quietly, leaping, bow surfing or giving you a show you will never forget! Every day out there is different and every day offers opportunities for unexpected surprises. You may even see other species such as Manta rays, turtles and a variety of shore birds. And perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot the ever so shy, and local resident, the Bryde’s whale, locally known as the sardine whale for it’s eating habits.


While on the boat, a knowledgeable guide will tell you about social interactions between dolphins, reproduction periods, gestation and nursing, how old they live and at what age they attain sexual maturity to name just a few. You will learn about photo-identification used for the purpose of studying the Bottlenose populations and individuals. In other words, you will come out of your experience with much more interesting information than you came in with and perhaps, with some spectacular photos you have taken. You will most definitely acquire some unforgettable memories. And because the ride is often inshore, the ocean conditions are usually quiet and quite enjoyable.


Knowledge is the key to understanding changes in their behaviors, human impacts on their habitat and food supply, and ultimately, helping this species retain their happy lifestyles. Knowledge is the only way we can assure the continuous existence of any species and by simply observing them, you will learn a lot.


So, if like everyone else, you just love dolphins, come with us, come and help us gather this vital information, this knowledge that will allow us to protect these marvelous creatures of the ocean: the Bottlenose dolphins.



Puerto Vallarta Mexico is  home to some of the finest dining in the WORLD. No kidding, Puerto Vallarta's restaurants have been featured repeatedly in the most prestigeous culinary publications, and for good reason...the fine dining in Puerto Vallarta is WORLD CLASS!

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