by Natalie Novak Perez (January 2013)
I love diving … the feeling of weightlessness. I love using nothing but your breathing to move up and down, and the amazing things I am lucky enough to see underwater. However, once in a while, getting there is more than half the fun.
Last month, I had an incredible experience. Ivan and I had prepared our gear, checked out divers' gear, and given a dive briefing. We were on our way to a dive site in front of Akumal. It was a fairly calm day and the waves were small. I like to look out over the ocean on the way to our dive sites to check the visibility, depth and current. That was when something caught my eye. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a daydream. It was not until I saw that hooked fin surface a second time that I gathered the ability to scream the word "Dolphin!" When I did that, I did it with so much volume and enthusiasm, that I saw our experienced captain jump, before his understanding of what I had said set in. Everyone turned in the direction I was pointing.
And there it was again: another fin, and another. There were several dolphins cruising about 20 yards from the boat. I was squealing like a little monkey. It was an amazing sight. Ivan grabbed the camera and started filming. It was a large pod, and some of the dolphins were in pairs when they surfaced. In the background you can see Cañon Point and Akumal Bay, but in the foreground the fins just kept popping up. Then they stopped. And in that moment I was both joyous for having had the experience and sad it was over. We waited a few minutes then started the boat and continued on our way.
And that is when the dolphins returned—right beside us and all around us. They started playing with the wake at the front of the boat, moving so fast and so effortlessly. This time I grabbed the camera to capture the moment. This was one of the three times that I have ever been approached by wild dolphins in Akumal and the only time I have captured it with a camera. I hope it brings you some of the joy it brought me.
Then the moment ended and we waited to see if they would come back. When they did not, we continued on our way to our dive site. We had a lovely dive, and the whole time I kept my ears and eyes open for our mammalian friends. But after 50 minutes under water and 3 minutes at a safety stop, we did not see them. We got back in the boat, and started our five-minute journey back.
I was talking about how amazing it was to see wild dolphins here. That was when my friend said, "Dolphin! Right there, just behind your shoulder!" And I said "Sure. I am gullible, but ..." and everyone was standing up yelling "Dolphin!" again. I could not believe it. They were back again! This time I advised my divers to grab their mask and fins. We gently slipped in the water, and all I saw was one dolphin butt swimming away. This time they were gone for good. They had had their fun.
Dive with Natalie & Ivan