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Paddle Among the Dolphins

Ever swam among the dolphins or stood on your paddleboard as they frolicked around you? Or perhaps you’ve raced along the beach keeping up with them as they leap gracefully in and out of the Gulf waves. What an exhilarating feeling!

As many as nine types of dolphins make their home in the Gulf of Mexico. Most live far offshore, but a couple can be spotted near the island, most commonly, the Atlantic Bottlenose. This blue-gray dolphin grows to 6 to 12 feet long and can eat more than 20 pounds of baitfish a day. They often cruise up and down just offshore from the beach, feeding and sometimes playing. They like to follow in the wake of boats, racing and jumping the waves.

A dolphin riding a wave.

On the bayside, they sometimes work together to drive fish into a shallow bay to feed. You’ll count yourself lucky to see them from one of the bayside docks.

You might spot the Atlantic Spotted dolphin a bit further offshore if you book a fishing trip with one of the local charter companies.

Rarely glimpsed from the shore, these social mammals communicate with squeaks, clicks, and whistles and live in pods. They may pay a visit to your boat as they frolic in the boat’s wake, gracefully leaping out of the water to signal their play.

It’s easy to see where the adult Spotted dolphins got their name, but not the young. These dolphins are born gray, and the calves don’t begin to develop their speckles until they are about three years old. As they age, spots start to develop with light spots on their dark backs and dark spots on their pale bellies.

Whether from the beach, shallow waters along the coastline, or further out into deep seawater, watch the dolphins at St. George Plantation.