Incredible Common Dolphins encounter on the Marine Big 5 Tour
If you think outside of whale season there nothing to see in Van Dyks Bay except Great White sharks, I need to stop you right there. Going out with our Marine Big 5 Tours is always a highlight of mine. You never know what you might see or which species we might encounter. The Marine Big 5 are just the tip of the iceberg really.
Let’s start on land. Preparation is key. This holds true for shark cage diving as well as Marine Big 5 tours. After the clients arrive and get registered, we start with the briefing. This includes a short introduction by the marine guide and a safety video. Unlike the briefing for Slashfin (shark cage diving vessel), there is also a talk about the penguin nest project. This is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. This project aims to save the African Penguin colony on Dyer Island by providing artificial penguin nests. It is mentioned at that point because the clients have the opportunity to sponsor a penguin nest after the trip.
Once everybody is briefed and ready to get on the boat, we get our clients into life jackets and equip them with an orange, waterproof jacket. Next, the entire orange group marches down to the harbour to embark onto Dream Catcher.
The ride outside of Kleinbaai harbour is always an experience on its own. Whether it’s a smooth or bumpy one, it is completely dependent on the daily tide and swell conditions. It might just be a fun ride out or an exciting rollercoaster, anything is possible.
Out in the bay, we made our way to the first stop of the trip: the shallow waters around a natural estuary. It washes minerals into the sea which attract fish. This, in turn, might draw the attention of Humpback Dolphins and other marine life. Unfortunately, we did not spot any this day, so Dream Catcher went on to Slashfin. At the shark cage diving vessel, we got lucky and spent time with several Bronze Whaler Sharks (Bronzies/Copper sharks) swimming around the cage.
Next up was Dyer Island, where we watched some lovely African Penguins waddling over the rocks, possibly making their way back to their artificial penguin nest.
Right beside Dyer Island is Geyser Rock, the home of 60,000 Cape Fur seals (yes, you can read that number again). Cruising through famous Shark Alley is always extremely enjoyable with these water dogs.
Having already ticked off 3 of the Marine Big 5, Dream Catcher now went on to spot some whales behind Geyser Rock in slightly deeper water. As we could not spot any of the distinctive blows we slowly made our way back to the harbour. Halfway there, we suddenly stopped and went back a bit to enjoy a huge Sunfish chilling at the surface.
All of a sudden Kira (the wildlife spotter) screamed “Dolphins”. Just seconds later Dream Catcher was surrounded by a Common Dolphin pod, clearly enjoying themselves swimming along with us.
It was an absolutely breath-taking experience, which no words can account for (which is why I won’t even try to go on further at this point). My only true advice is, to put that phone or camera away and take a real look at these marvellous marine animals.
Looking at the faces back on land proved again: Dream Catcher really does catch dreams.