If you see a line of beachcombers standing and pointing at the water, shading their eyes as they squint into the distance, odds are there are dolphins nearby. Something about this obviously intelligent mammal has stirred curiosity since people first stepped onto the beach. And while the facts are lost to history, soon after the first people noticed the dolphins, some enterprising soul probably sold seats in his dugout canoe for the first dolphin tour.
So, when you come to Sanibel Island, what is the best way to spot dolphins? Here are some tips:
1. Take a dolphin watching tour. To your advantage, dolphin tour operators are often “locals” who know the most likely places and times for observing dolphins. Watching from a boat gives you a unique vantage point and may afford up-close viewing as the creatures approach the boat to investigate or even jump in the boat’s wake! You’ll have many choices for selecting a dolphin tour operator; if you’re staying at the Island Inn on Sanibel, ask us for a recommendation
2. Get up early. Even if you are a night owl by nature, we always encourage guests to experience sunrise on the beach. The early morning hours are also when you are most likely to see groups of dolphins feeding just offshore, cruising up and down the beach. Sightings, although common are less prevalent later in the day.
3. Rent a kayak. For the active vacationer, a kayak trip can be an exhilarating way to conduct a DIY dolphin tour. Kayaks are available to rent from Island Inn, ask the front desk for details and rates.
4. Use binoculars. Although people imagine they’re going to step into the water and frolic with dolphins, it generally doesn’t happen that way with wild dolphin populations such as are found along the Sanibel Island shoreline. Most of the time, you are going to spot the animals moving offshore – a pair of binoculars can help bring the action in closer, safely!
5. Go where the fish are. Areas on Sanibel’s shoreline that provide our dolphin friends an abundant meal and a reason to stick around, such as Blinds Pass and Lighthouse Point, are great locations to enhance your chances of seeing these majestic animals.
Luckily, the dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and is easy for us to observe since it swims near the surface (it is a mammal and must surface to breathe). Standing on the shore or wading out into the surf will often provide the simplest vantage point. Be safe, and enjoy watching dolphins from the Island Inn on Sanibel Island!