Dolphins & Whales – World Class Wildlife Encounters
The Turks & Caicos Islands are truly blessed given the number of whales and dolphins we see throughout the year, both inside the reef (in the shallows) and offshore (outside the reef) in the big blue.
While the Humpback Whales are seasonal visitors (Jan – April), dolphins and even Pilot Whales frequent these waters all year long.
Our best trip options for such encounters are:
Whatever trip or adventure we are on: if we see whales or dolphins, we always try to make every effort to get as close to them as possible—in the most respectful way possible. Our philosophy and approach mean that we are often able to get into the water with our guests to see dolphins, and it is not unusual for our expert guides to create mind-bending in-water whale encounters as well.
The Edge of the Banks (full day); The Snorkel Ecotour (half day) as well as any of our half or full day Private Charters.
Jojo and the dolphins of the Turks & Caicos
Our world famous dolphin, JoJo, is a legend in his own right and has been cruising our shores, surfing boat wakes, surprising divers and playing with swimmers for close to four decades. He is a large Bottlenose dolphin and is frequently seen between Grace Bay and Parrot Cay. His scarred body makes him easy to identify and he has also been seen to commune with other blue water dolphins out in the ocean.
Over the years it seems JoJo has had several mates and offspring. Most recently it is very common to find JoJo hanging around a mother (called Bo) and an amazingly curious tiny female calf (called Scooter or Dreamer). The young ones’ behaviour is uncannily similar to how JoJo was in the late 80’s and 90’s, allowing for some truly amazing and extremely close and mesmerizing encounters.
There are numerous pods of Bottlenose dolphins that live on the Caicos Bank which we sometimes see on our way to West, French or South Caicos. However, more common are the larger open ocean pods of both Bottlenose and Atlantic Spotted dolphins which often we see on our snorkel and dive adventures outside the reef in the open ocean. These encounters are often some of the very best we experience as the thrill of swimming in the big blue is also magnified by sharing the waters with these social acrobats. Encounters can last anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes. One thing they all love is to ride the bow waves, which is amazing to watch, photograph or film.
In the winter months we sometimes see pods of Pilot Whales, large, muscular dolphins, second only in size to Killer Whales. These deep divers, cruise past our drop offs looking for squid and other denizens of the deep.
The North Atlantic Humpback Whales
Humpback Whale – background
Humpback Whales are by far the most common whales to visit these islands, they pass outside our reefs during the latter stages of their annual mating and calving migration to the tropics. Arriving in mid to late January and leaving mid April, at 30-45’ long, these stunning leviathans are the highlight of our season and year. To see them is one thing, to swim with them will take your breath away.
As the Humpbacks arrive around these islands, it is often their haunting songs that are first heard by scuba divers. Tell tale puffs and full body breaches are seen not long after.
The Turks & Caicos are part of a larger ocean area stretching as far south as Peurto Rico that over are home to their winter breeding and calving grounds. It is here in the warm protected waters of the tropics that Humpbacks will find their mates and rear their young. Thus seeing mothers with their young calves is an absolute highlight and delight.
Distinguished by unique patterns on their flukes (tails), the Humpbacks will stay here until they leave ready to head North (2000-3000 miles) as far away as Iceland, back to their rich summer feeding grounds. It is one of the largest migrations of any animal in the world.
Encounters – soft in water
We are always on the lookout for dolphins and whales and always want to try and see if we can swim with them. As always, when it comes to mother nature, we don’t always get what we want, when we want. Guarantees of seeing much less swimming with them is pointless. They are wild and that’s what makes any encounter so utterly compelling and addictive.
Our approach is, if we don’t try, we’ll never know. While JoJo and his companions are fairly easy (relatively) to “encounter”, open ocean experiences range from boat only viewing to full on in water encounters. More often than not, dolphins will put on a surface show. In water, they might come to check us out and if interested, stay. If not, they swiftly move on and the show is over.
Humpback whales on the other hand, are a whole different ball game. During peak activity of the winter months, we “bend” all our snorkel, dive and private boat charter trips to increase our chances of finding and seeing them. Our team are seasoned experts in how to correctly approach whales and more significantly are often able to get our guests in water to see them. There are however, NO GUARANTEES, except for trying. It is a waiting game, that requires patience and respect. We don’t chase whales! We watch and learn to make the right move. Sometimes that means, leaving them alone. Sometimes it means gambling and sometimes it means joining them on their swim. If you get to see them you are super fortunate, if you swim with them you will never forget the experience. Join us.
Best trip options – Edge of the Banks, Snorkel Ecotour, diving or any private charter (half or full day)
What to bring and what to wear
Mask, fins & snorkel
We provide them (cressi), you can always bring your own
Sometimes a good idea in winter,
we also can offer these
Excellent sun protection, more reliable than sunscreen as you don’t have to reapply. We sell these
highly recommended but it must be 100% bio degradeable. We do sell an excellent variety
A hat is always a good idea
when on the ocean
sunglasses are also very useful in the tropical glare
Drink lots and stay hydrated.
We provide water
Is of course a great way to
capture the magic.
You can’t have
enough of them.
A long sleeve top to keep you warm is always a good idea after a long day on the boat