Thursday, February 25, 2010

Costa Rica: Whales and Dolphins

Our inn, while nestled into a jungle hillside, was also at the mouth of a river which fed into Drake Bay. An archway at the dock features dolphin statues as a nod to the wonderful creatures living beyond the bay.

On our first full day at the inn we decided to go out and search for whales and dolphins. We hadn't been on the water for more than 20 minutes when we spotted spouts from humpback whales. The whales come here to have their babies and nurse their young in the warmer waters. While their babies gain up to 30 pounds a day, the mothers lose a significant percentage of their body fat during this period. They have no food source here. Only when the whales swim north again, to the cooler waters where krill live, will the mother start to eat once more.

These two whales were with a young one, but we rarely saw glimpses of it. And the grown-ups weren't too exciting; only once did they dive deep enough for us to spy a tail. I have a blurry picture of it that's not worth posting. But here are the two behemoths as they enjoyed the warm water. We watched them loll about for close to an hour, then moved on.

We traveled further and spotted something in the water: a yellow-bellied sea snake, a cousin of the cobra and one of the most poisonous water snakes. They grow to about 2 1/2 feet and this one was most definitely full grown. The end of the snake's tail is flat like an oar to propel it through the water. It eats by capturing unsuspecting fish that seek shelter beneath it. It was so weird seeing a snake in the water ... and what are the chances we come across one in the middle of the ocean!

A bit further on we came across a small pod of spotted dolphins. These dolphins are shyer than bottlenose dolphins, so we were very lucky to get such a good look at them. They were hunting together, darting all about. As the dolphins age, they get more spots -- rather the reverse of the cat world.

Later on, we also saw some bottlenose dolphins. It's just so exciting to see the control and speed they have in the water. They swim so close together! I think there are eight dolphins in tight formation here.

What an exciting day at sea!


norma said...

Fabulous pictures of sea life! I didn't see any of that when I was there.

Cindy said...

How relaxing for me just to see your pictures and dream about the sea life and sun and smell of the salt water... I'm having my own little vicarious vacation away from all this slush!

Vivian said...

Lucky you!Enjoy your holiday.