28 January 2012

Islamorada Journal 2012...28 JAN

Deb and I went out in Shoo-Fly on Saturday...urged on to do so by the marine weather forecast saying it was going to be the last day without 15-20 kt. winds for a while.

Deb almost immediately spotted a pod of dolphins that we observed from a discreet distance for a few minutes.

Click on this photo to enlarge, and note the series of parallel marks in the area of the dolphin's mouth.

More about the dolphins below:

This marker warns of a shallow area that lies quite near to the Intracoastal Waterway which runs right past us here.

Wikipedia explains, "The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile (4,800-km) waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea."

Never heard of a boat fetching up on this shoal, but it points out the need for boaters to know what they're doing when transiting this area.

We hadn't previously fished around this shoal, so tried it this one time.

Caught a small barracuda.

Nothing else.

We left.

Clouds were gorgeous.

S'funny, but it seems typical out here that there will be clouds billowing all around the horizon, but perfectly blue sky overhead. Must be some logical explanation for that, but I don't know what it is.

That's Charley's Yellowtail skiff over there with Charley, Schoel, and Wayne on board.

Charley got his first permit on this trip...17-18 pounder.

Mazel tov, Charley!

OK. Back to the dolphins.

This bunch was not at all playful...seemed to have places to go and things to do. They did, however, appear to us to be smaller than the dolphins we typically see.

Deb suggested that this might be a young bachelor pod...young males that have left the home pod and are just hanging out together...cooperating to find food...or girl dolphins...sort of like a gang.

I figured these were members of either the Flips or the Blubs, one of those two gangs.

Their gang membership was confirmed by the gang tats they wore on their skin, especially on their dorsal fins.

If you click on the photos to enlarge and then look closely at their dorsals, you can see the series of parallel marks indicating gang membership.

One fellow, obviously the gang leader, has these marks on the back of his head.

In reality, according to UnderstandDolphins.Tripod.com, "An animal establishes its dominance through “raking” other animals as a control mechanism. Raking is the scratching of another’s skin with these sharp teeth. It is called raking because the marks left on the skin appear to be made with a garden rake. The marks are superficial and appear to present no risk to the animal being disciplined. They will eventually be shed in the normal process of skin replacement. Raking is a very common practice between dolphins and seems to provide messages such as, 'Behave yourself,' 'Don’t do that,' 'Stop bothering me,' 'Get in line,' 'I'm in charge here.' etc."

Sounds sort of like a gang, doesn't it?

Pelicans talking to each other: "Jeepers, what was that?" "I dunno." Sounded like a thunderclap!" "I think Pete farted!" "Cripes, let's get upwind!"

As to our fishing success on Saturday, we saw the first tarpon of the year, several of them, saw a bunch of permit also several sharks including some in the "ruh-roh" class...but we had no luck in getting them to bite.

These fish are really spooky in shallow water.

This was Friday night's sunset.

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