Few experiences can compare to swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas. Imagine swimming in warm, blue waters next to a dolphin, being able to reach out and touch it’s smooth skin, and even holding on to a dolphin’s fin! It isn’t just a faraway dream in the Bahamas, where you can enter the dolphin sanctuary and spend hours swimming with dolphins. In the Bahamas, there are several opportunities that let you go out in the water and hug, pet and swim with these intelligent and curious creatures.
The clear tropical waters surrounding the Bahamas are teeming with life, and recently, an unexpected visitor has been spotted off the Atlantic shores of Florida — an albino bottlenose dolphin. Recent sightings in Florida and California have sparked an interest in the rare albinism condition in dolphins, and has rekindled curiosities that surfaced in 2007 when a pink albino bottlenose dolphin was spotted in a saltwater estuary in Louisiana. Of course, there’s plenty of talk about albino dolphins around the world as a male bottlenose dolphin, named Albus by researchers, was found between Italy and Croatia in the Mediterranean Sea in August 2014. Albus had a gray dolphin companion, who swam and hunted with the albino dolphin, and the pair brought about much excitement as Albus is believed to be the very first and only albino dolphin spotted in the Mediterranean. In November 2014, it was reported that an albino dolphin was captured in Japan during an annual hunt.
Albinism is a condition in which the skin lacks pigment, which is also known as melanin. This condition can occur in all types of mammals, including humans, but albinism is often rare. It is even more difficult to estimate the number of albino dolphins in the wild because so many creatures that live in the oceans are not documented or ever seen. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 15 total albino dolphins have been spotted since the early 1960s, which could explain the excitement and awe felt with the recent occurrences. Because the dolphins are wild, it can also be difficult to know for certain whether their condition is true albinism or if they have a different condition or genetic reason for their white coloring.
Swim With the Dolphins in the Bahamas!
While the unusual sighting has locals and tourists curious about the appearance of an albino dolphin, whether there are more like it swimming close by has yet to be determined. The dolphin, which experts think is most likely an adolescent, was spotted as it raised its dorsal fin above the water’s surface. And much to the delight of onlookers, the all-white bottlenose dolphin even poked its nose out of the water, providing a better view of its unique coloring.
The albino dolphin was spotted in mid-December for the first time, but additional reports of sightings in the same area off Florida’s eastern coast have been documented. The dolphin was likely hunting in the area, as mullet, sea trout and other species of fish are plentiful there, and it was traveling with a gray dolphin.
And the coasts of Florida aren’t the only place where an exquisite albino dolphin has been recently spotted. In fact, a white dolphin was seen in late January 2015 in California’s Monterey Bay. Biologists have noted that dolphins are usually born with a dark gray coloring that lightens as the mammal grows. So a young, all-white dolphin is cause for discussion. Many experts in the Monterey Bay Whale Watch group have stated that the recent sighting is a repeat from August 2014, when a while dolphin was seen in the same area. This has led experts to wonder if the albino dolphin spotted has migrated and just returned, or if it has been hanging around the bay since August.
With all the talk about albino dolphin sightings, now is the perfect time to plan your trip to swim with the dolphins in the Bahamas and try your luck at spotting the elusive albino dolphin. It’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and since the local albino dolphin is believed to be one of only 20 albino dolphins to exist worldwide, you don’t want to miss your chance to take in this remarkable beauty.