Back in 2004, I was stationed down in Cuba for a year with the Army. I was fortunate enough to be able to do some diving in my spare time, and it was phenominal! One of my more memorable dives was the day I was visited by a pod of 6 dolphins.
It wasn`t unusual to see dolphins on the surface riding the wake of the boats and playing in the middle of the bay area. But hardly ever had any divers encountered them under the surface. I was not only lucky enough to have been graced by their presence, but to have a camera to document it. While describing my dive to fellow divers at the dive shop, I received plenty of looks of disbelief. Until I unvailed the photos of course.
To say that any dive in the Guantanamo Bay area was routine or normal, was to say that you really didn`t enjoy diving. Each time I dipped below the surface, there was a whole new adventure awaiting me. Even on sites that I had dove many times over. And this was one of those dives. I was diving with two Instructors that had become good friends while I was finishing my Padi Dive Master cert. They were on the hunt for some snapper and I was shooting film. So to stay out of the way of flying spear shafts, I lagged well behind the hunters. They headed off over the reef and I slowly drifted along, looking for that perfect photo. I quickly lost hopes of that, because the visibility was knocked way down due to large peices of sediment floating in the water.
I approached the edge of the reef and down the side of the channel that was dredged out for the Navy ships. A nice sized Cubara snapper caught my eye, and I was following it from a distance. I was at about 45` depth and the visibility was around 25` through the thick sediment. I heard some faint clicking in my ears and at first, thought my sinuses were popping from the pressure changes. The clicking and snapping got louder and then I heard the unmistakable chirping and squeaking of the dolphins. I spun in a circle trying to see them but couldn`t tell what direction they were coming from.
I could feel them coming closer and suddenly out of nowhere, they swam past me like a speeding bullet. Three beautiful gray dolphins, that took my breath away. I was so excited that I forgot I even had my camera. They circled me a few times and even pinged me with their sonar! That was an incredible feeling. It was like the water turned into a giant massage chair and vibrated my whole body.
By the time I remembered my camera, the three dolphins left as suddenly as they came. I just hovered there in the water, in awe of what had just happened. I could still hear them clicking and chirping off in the distance. I watched the direction they had left in, hoping to see them return. And that`s when they came back. All six of them! I snapped a few pictures, but mainly for proof of the encounter. I knew they wouldn`t turn out very well. The dolphins circled me a few more times, and again, pinged me with their sonar. They came pretty close too, but I dared not reach out, incase I ruined the experience. They left again, and shortly after four of them returned. It was basically the same thing all over again. They circled a few times, squeaking and clicking at me, pinging me and then they vanished. I figured I wasn`t enough fun for them to hang around, but I was so overwhelmed that all I could do was watch them!
And with that, I checked my air and headed back to the bouy line to find my buddies. I knew they weren`t too far away, and they were having a successful hunt, because I heard the occassional snap of their spear guns going off. They said they had heard the dolphins as well, but never did see them. I guess luck was on my side that day, to have that memorable adventure!