After the Gator Ranch in Mississippi, we were off to sweet home Alabama!
My camera jammed as we were crossing, so this was the best shot I got.
 However, there was a safe spot to pull of at the Alabama state line to grab a shot with the kids.
 Since we were doing the gulf southern tour, I found a wonderful place to see dolphins in Orange Beach, AL.  The Dolphin Queen was exceptional.
 Captain Lori is the only female captain in the marina.  She took just our family out for an hour in search of dolphins.
It was a very busy Memorial Day weekend with boats and jest skis zooming everywhere.  When I had called to arrange the tour, she was very hesitant about booking a tour so late in the day on such a busy weekend.  She warned me that the dolphins might not appear with all the activity and noise.
 When I told her it was then or never because we were just passing through, she agreed to do it but only with the understanding that we might not see anything but boat wakes.
 She searched for about 15 minutes and radioed to her mates to see if anyone had spotted any.  No one had seen any.  She had a hunch they would be where the birds were feeding and took us in that direction.  Sure enough we started to see them!  It was beautiful!!  
 I have always loved dolphins and for a time was really into them (what teenage girl isn't?)!  But I have never lost the desire to one day swim with them.  They remind me of wonderful dogs but far more intelligent and beautiful.  I was plain giddy each time they rose up and gracefully slid beneath the water.
 It was calving season and we were able to see two mom and baby pairs.  Captain Lori was extremely knowledgeable about the pods and informed us the tiny striped one we saw was 2 weeks or younger!  Apparently dolphins are born with stripes and lose them around two weeks old.  What is better than a dolphin?!?!  A brand new baby dolphin!  You would have thought I just watched a baby be born the way my eyes acted up. :)
It was so neat to see them in the wild.  While Sea World offers a nice opportunity to see them up close, it is always sad to see animals in captivity.  Watching them surface and play in the wake because they wanted to, made it feel so special and magical to witness.

 Everyone enjoyed the afternoon on the sea.
 It was so grand to have a boat all to ourselves and listen to Captain Lori educate us about the dolphins and their local environment.  She told us they had recently had a flood of rain that changed the salinity of the bay so much that the dolphins were developing sores on their skin because the water was not salty enough.  That combined with the decreased food supply that had also suffered from too much rain water had forced the dolphins to feed further out towards the ocean.  She said it had been very hard to find the dolphins in the last week.  
She told us we must be a very lucky family to have seen so many and even newborns, so late in the day with so much activity.

Very lucky indeed!
After an exciting afternoon, it was time to try some local cuisine.  Right by the dock was Flippers Seafood and Oysters.  The Sea Food Nachos with fish caught right out in the bay was delicious.  We ate every last bit and enjoyed the southern hospitality of our waitress.  She was so genuinely nice and took an interest in our quest to visit all 50 states.  She treated the kids to free homemade ice cream.  When she found out Hank couldn't have it because it had eggs, she went and found candy to give him so he wouldn't be left out.  It is true that people in the South are just nicer.  
Dolphins are not what came to my mind when I thought of Alabama, but I will forever remember it fondly for the beauty and wonder we were able to experience in Orange Beach.  Alabama lives up to its name of Alabama the beautiful, from its dolphins, beaches and its hospitable people.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

Alabama and dolphins! I had no idea! What a treat :)