VALLARTA DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS IN THE WILD!
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,
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
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.
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.