On Friday night, we scheduled a dolphin cruise with Dolphin Fun Dolphin Cruises. We came in from the pool, got ready, and drove into town to a marina to check in for the boat ride. Lots of businesses and private citizens of Orange Beach keep their boats docked in the marinas in the many bays located inland. We had never seen so many boats in one place.
Dolphin Fun Dolphin Cruises was chartered by Captain Dean, who is a school teacher. He charters dolphin cruises in the summer time and his wife Jean helps take care of scheduling and paperwork. He is very informative and really wants everyone to have a good time while on the boat. We thought a family from Iowa would be the farthest from home but were mistaken as a family from Germany was aboard! The kids put on life jackets (Charly got to hold the ship's mascot), Captain Dean gave the run down of rules, and we set off for Perdido Bay and the Alabama/Florida state line.
Once in Perdido Bay, Captain Dean explained how our dolphin sightseeing would go. Often times, he charters into waters where he thinks dolphin are and is able to show many playing and jumping. However, we were sightseeing on the very first day of shrimping season! Which meant the bay was filled with shrimp boats. Captain Dean explained that this was the best time of year for dolphin because they will follow shrimp boats and feed off the spoils. Sometimes they will even chew holes in shrimp nets!
We followed a few different shrimp boats for a little while and saw some dolphin from a distance trailing behind. After 20 minutes or so, we found one small boat being trailed by a mother dolphin and her baby! Captain Dean explained that while we could bounce from boat to boat and see lots of dolphin, we were going to stick with this one because it was a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Captain Dean thought the baby dolphin was only 3 weeks old. The closer we got to the mother and her baby, we could even see faint stripes still on the baby (baby dolphin are born with striped fur). Captain Dean said that she had to have been born very late in the season.
The baby mimicked the mother in everything she did. Captain Dean explained that the baby would stay close to the mother for 5 years while the mother taught it everything she knew! She would maybe only have one more baby within that time span.
It is illegal for cruises and fishermen to "feed" the dolphin but the shrimp boat we befriended pulled it's net out of the water and tossed it's spoil (anything that wasn't shrimp) back into the water. We cheered on the mother and her baby while they fed right up by our boat. Charly and Hayes were in awe.
On our way back to Orange Beach, we stopped by a trap to see if anything was inside. We were told that often times these traps are filled with sea creatures but our luck only brought one blue crab. Charly and Hayes refused to hold it, but wanted pictures with it.
The dolphin cruise ended with a water war. People climbed to the top deck and some stayed on the main deck and the two groups hashed it out. Charly and Hayes wanted nothing to do with it so we stayed inside and watched the fun. It was intense and probably would have been a bit much for the kids.
We pulled into the marina just after 8:00 pm and ate overlooking the bay at Tacky Jack's, a popular Orange Beach restaurant built up on the water. We were all exhausted and crashed pretty early when we got back to the condo.