But before all that we had a mission to say hello to two species of the ocean. About 5km offshore the captain stopped the engines and the crew took up locations around the boat, one up in the raised bridge. All the tourists looked too but we were inexperienced spotters and it was one of the crew who eventually shouted up to the bridge and pointed south west of us. The captain thrust the engine forward and we circled round to that heading. For about a minute we made progress at full speed and then dropped down to half, but he needn’t have worried. We were soon joined by the animals who were too inquisitive to keep away. These were pan-tropical spotted dolphins. At first we saw a few gently breaking the surface with their fins, one at a time, then two or three together. Some were to starboard, others to port. If you looked down you could see them under the surface keeping pace with the boat.
I recognized the game the operators were having with us. Yes they did have to search a little for this pod, but they knew ultimately they would find them; to an extent that sitting quietly in the open ocean was just to raise our anticipation. There was no question of us being disappointed. And here we were, in amongst a pod of 50-100 dolphins all playing about in the water around us, maybe even for us. A few would breach , toss about in the air and fall down, some would just do a little jump, flick their tails and pop back under the surface. I took hundreds of photos and plenty of video from my little camera. Most of it was useless as by the time you focused in on the jumping dolphin and took a shot he had already gone back beneath the surface. You just had to anticipate the action and keep shooting – thank heavens for the days of digital photography. In some ways it was better not looking down the lens of the camera and I took time out of my hopeless photography just to wallow in this spectacle happening all around me, hearing the whoops and cries of the people on board as yet another magical trick was presented somewhere round the boat.