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The Day of the Dolphin

by Dick Zebo

Summer vacations are always planned with the greatest expectations, especially those in the Turks and Caicos Islands on the first week of August. You know your going to have fun and plan to arrive a day or two early so as to make sure your gear and boat are in fine operational condition, you don't want to travel this far only to be thwarted in your ambitious dreams because of inadequate planning and or equipment maintenance..

Your mask, fins and snorkel are operational and your fins are still intact, however you wonder how many more years you can expect these to function without attracting dry rot potentially for lack of use and poor maintenance... The Silicone mask looks good but the fins are starting to look a little fragile and so you fret because Voit doesn't make these any more...

A touch of bad news arrives on the tongue of George Gibbs, your resident property manager and associate partner. The starter on the 20' Striper is malfunctioning and should be either rebuilt or replaced. There is no time for rebuilding and therefore you call Walkin Marine and pay those outrageous prices that Marina's feel they have a god given right to charge. The pain subsides quickly because they have one in stock  and you anticipate immediate results when Dolphus Arthur, my most trusted fishing partner and guide advises you that he has to be in Provo the next day regardless and that he can pick one up and bring it back to you.... Hallelujah, there is indeed a god !

George Gibbs, my resident manager beaches the boat and performs remarkably, installing the new starter upon which time we gather the strongest of our women to help launch the boat back into the sea because the tide is as high as it will get for the day and there is no time to gather local men for the task. We turn the boat into the sea and put our backs to the task and surprisingly make eadway. In a few minutes allowing for wave action, the boat glides back into the sea and within minutes, George fires her up and takes her for a test spin....  Lobsters beware, we are back in business. One of the results is shown below, a fine specimen of North Shore Middle Caicos Dinner.

 

 

I am not sure at which age the good lord will disallow my adventures into the sea but until such time as he and/or my body dictate otherwise, I will continue to enjoy the fruits of the sea.

The following morning, the winds picked up and George suggested we stay local and just hit the reef and coral out in front of the house and work our way down to Ferguson Cut. My wife and daughter tagged along, my wife to fish and my daughter to act as a spotter for which activity, I have been training her for years. The training paid off as I was having little success in some of the holes I would have expected to find Lobsters hiding. She was 40-50 feet to the south of me when she screamed ; Daddy !.. I quickly maneuvered to her location and spotted the legs below a ledge of the Lobster I thought she had spotted. I dove enroute, to get below and see what I could do to invite this huge lobster to dinner. My anxiety caused me to miss the lobster on the first attempt and he scrambled to safety  while I went to the surface to reload with a lung full of fresh air. When I returned to the spot I had seen him last, he was gone, and I was bewildered as to where something that huge could have disappeared to in such a short time. I rose again to gather fresh air and my daughter screamed once again... There Daddy, there, while pointing to the right of the huge coral

encrustation. 

This was the Lobster she had originally called me to, not the monster I was chasing.. I dove rapidly

and this time placed the hook properly in the lobsters backside and pulled it from the reef. As I wrestled with this nice 3 1/2 lb crawfish, my eyes caught a glimpse once again of the monster trying to escape to the deeper portion of the reef and safety.

I scrambled over, unhooking the first and placing him squarely in my left hand and extended the hook to gather the big guy. I hooked him squarely and pulled him from his sanctuary however couldn't keep him on the hook because of a massive flip of his tail and the fact my other hand was previously engaged with his cousin. He ran for the deep portion of the hole but I said to myself, not this time amigo... I swam over the ledge to approach him from the other side and I hooked him again, this time securely. I drew him into my body to keep him from once again escaping. A mild wave tossed me around as I had no arms to work with and before I new it, I was rolling in fire Coral... Not Good !

After a few moment of thrashing around like Venus demilo, I managed to break free of the coral and headed back to the boat... Shortly thereafter, two more fell to my years of skill and we were satisfied now having nine good to great sized lobsters and a dozen huge conch to add to the dinner menu. 

We picked up anchor and started back to the villa which was a short two miles to the east when " Gambi " appeared and started following the boat then playfully darting in and out of the bow waves. George stopped the boat and suggested I jump in with her and see if she cared to play or interact with me, especially since we had a camera aboard. Gambi must be the product of a release to the wild program of previously captured and trained Dolphins.I had the occasion to swim with her on several previous occasions, once alone, once with guest/clients and once with my daughter off Gambol Point on Middle Caicos.

Some of the natives wanted to name her " Gambol " and we had written emails to many of our clients and land purchasers looking for a possible name..  Some suggested Bambi because of it's similarity to Bambarra and thus we combined the two in compromise and formed " Gambi ".

She was obviously in a festive mood as she came seriously close ( 8 to10 feet ) almost immediately. I had my underwater Nikon with me but feared that the film was too old to be of any use... That proved to be true but Milena, my wife was above shooting with a 35mm digital and so she managed to capture a few excellent shots such as the one below.

After a few minutes of playing and cavorting and doing my Esther Williams rendition, trying to get him/her to mimic my actions, I spotted some live Conch below in just ten feet of water and never wanting to pass up opportunity, I dove slowly to retrieve my next dinner. Gambi was interested in my every move and as I approached the bottom and lifted the first shell off the bottom, she came within four feet of me with a totally inquisitive look about her.  As I rose to the surface, she rose with me and literally stood on her tail and nodded her head at me vigorously... I took several additional pictures and prayed that the film and camera were working properly, this was too good to be true....I brought that Conch and two others to the surface shortly afterwards when my wife captured the picture above...

 My wife loves to snorkel but in manageable water, both calm and shallow. The fact that this creature had not eaten me after 30 minutes or so was just too much for her to bear... She called to me and donned her mask and snorkel.. She wasn't going to miss this opportunity, come hell or high water.

She slid into the water, cleared her mask and immediately, these two were attracted to each other. It appeared to me that Gambi realized that she was female as he rolled over and exposed his/her entire underside. He maintained that position for at least a minute while my wife marveled at both, the Dolphin and her courage occasionally screaming in delight into her snorkel whenever Gambi assumed a different position or rose to give us head shakes in what seemed an effort to communicate. We swam with Gambi for another 15 or 20 minutes or so while George stayed aboard monitoring our ctions and taking additional photo's.

We returned to the boat totally enamored with this lovely creature as a thousand questions ran through our minds, where did she come from, who trained her ?? should we reveal her to the world ?? or just keep her as a secret in our little hidden paradise as we have for the past several years.

That question would be partially answered the following day! We pulled anchor and as we did, Gambi rolled over on her side and waved goodbye. This is the result of training and therefore I am sure she is a product of a release program. I hope someone in that program reads this and is rewarded with the knowledge that Gambi is alive and well in her own little paradise.

The following day, I had to attend to business in Grand Turk and flew over to pick up some registrations that were ready and to place a few more into the system so as to allow others to join

us in our little paradise and realize some dreams of their own.

Land Registry had moved into their new offices and were finally catching up. Vanet in Land Registry handed me eight previously submitted registrations and I was totally delighted to be able to convey these titles to the proper owners. I completed my business in Grand Turk and boarded my flight back to Provo and then on to the Ferry for the return trip to North Caicos where my car was waiting for me. The drive from Sandy Point and  across the Causeway on the newly paved roads was now an absolute pleasure. I took advantage of the opportunity and stopped onto Tee's supermarket to buy fresh bread and a gallon of milk. How beautiful life has become with the addition of the Causeway and our 21 miles of blacktop roads.

AS I approached Eagles Rest Villa's on Bambarra Beach in Middle Caicos I strained for sight of my wife so as to pass along the word of my success in Grand Turk. 

I noticed a lot of activity out at the Tiki Hut which we call " the office " where my wife, daughter, Greter and guests, Tammy Pierce, her mother Linda, Niece Casey and George Gibbs where excitedly reminiscing the events of the day. It appears that the stories of the previous days romping with Gambi were just too much to bear and so they hired George to take them out to the site where we had had our playful encounter the day before.

It appears that Gambi rose to the occasion in just five minutes after they arrived. While Tammy and Casey were somewhat reserved and cautious, my daughter Greter dove right in and re-introduced herself as we had the opportunity to swim with her in the past, however in that instance, Gambi had stayed aloof and had kept her distance, not really allowing us to get any closer than twenty feet of so.

This was surely not going to be the case this day ! Gambi quickly bonded with Grey as we call her and the two quickly started playing games with Grey swimming down to the bottom and swimming sideways while Gambi swam parallel to her mimicking her actions and style. They played for several hours having been joined by Tammy and Casey, and soon, my wife as well.

 

Gambi repeated her actions of the previous day by standing vertically on her tail and nodding her head so as to say she approved of all the company. During these three hours of cavorting with Gambi, the others returned to the boat on several occasions to rest. At one point, she stuck her head in the sand and spun around on her nose so to speak,  and I am sure once we have an opportunity to speak to Dean Bernal, Jo Jo's friend and benefactor of Provo fame, we might have some answers as to what all these specific gestures mean. 

I said that Grey & Gambi bonded and this was more apparent when she attempted to swim back to the boat to rest.. He swam in front of hey and blocked her path back to the boat thus insisting on more play time.

A five foot Barracuda moved in to see what all the fuss was all about . Gambi must have sensed the fear, and the apprehension as well as the potential danger the Barracuda provided because he quickly ran the Cuda back into the deep. Everyone thought that Gambi was gone for the day because she ran that Cuda out to sea and they followed her with their eyes taking advantage of

approximately 150 feet of visibility...

Grey had taken advantage of Gambi's departure to return to the boat and rest a while. It wasn't more than five minutes later that he returned  and circled the boat looking for his new found friends.

Grey jumped into the water once again and it was like homecoming week... Gambi quickly rose to the surface to welcome her and the love affair was re-ignited.

They dove, rolled and swam side by side for another hour while George,  Tammy, Casey and my wife looked on in sheer amazement. They took turns taking pictures of this natural phenomena and then returned to the water to join in on the festivities.

Needless to say, this dominated the dinner table conversation along with plans for Tammy to build her house on her newly acquired lot here in Middle Caicos. Soon the rest of the family will venture down and hope experience the same magnificent experience.

We too will return to Middle Caicos soon and hopefully provide you with some underwater shots of this playful raving beauty.

Until then, God Bless you all...

Should some like to experience similar adventures on Middle Caicos, you can contact George Gibbs at 1-649-243-8371  or you can email him at; George Gibbs <gosolution1969@hotmail.com>,

Dick Zebo

Eagle Land Developments Ltd, Middle Caicos

EAGLE LAND DEVELOPMENTS LTD.

Turks & Caicos Islands, B.W.I.

Turks & Caicos Islands, British West Indies

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