Everybody Loves Them
Bottlenose dolphins are a common site on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Several companies offer dolphin cruises, and most of them guarantee that you will see dolphins. That's a pretty easy guarantee because it would be hard not see them if you are in saltwater close to the Orange Beach - Gulf Shores - Fort Morgan area. Dolphin watching is lot of fun and even long-time beach residents never tire of them.
Dolphins are mammals, not fish, and they are related to porpoises and whales. They all belong to the animal family, cetaceans.
It's easy to understand why so many people think these creatures are fish - they look like fish. To farther complicate things there is a beautiful creature called a dolphin that is a fish. This other dolphin is a sport fish related to mackerels, and it shows up on restaurant menus. More than a few tourists have been shocked when their waitress has recommended the dolphin.
The bottlenose dolphins that swim near Gulf Shores can reach a length of as much as 8 feet and weigh 500 lbs. They're usually a lot bigger than they they look from the shore. If you were to touch one, it's skin would feel smooth and rubbery.
Dolphins are very intelligent. They are smarter than dogs and might be as smart as primates. Sure it's a little "out there," but there are organizations that believe that dolphins are intelligent enough to be considered a "nation."
The dolphins that you see on the Alabama coast are very unafraid of humans, often to their detriment.It is is best to keep your distance, unless they want to swim in your direction. Sharks are considered the biggest natural threat but humans do them more harm.
Jumping, spinning and making a racket, dolphins will put on a show for you every time. They are amazingly fast too; 18 miles an hour is a normal swimming speed and when chasing prey or fleeing a threat, they can swim a lot faster.
We take our boat to Wolfe Bay or the Intracoastal Canal to watch the dolphins. We just let the boat drift and let the dolphins go where they like. The best time to see a lot of them is the hour or so just before dark.
But really, they can turn up anywhere, anytime. From the beach, it is hit and miss. If you have a little spare time at the end of the day, try the Perdido Pass area. The Terry Cove side (opposite the beach side) is a very good spot dolphins.
While it is very easy to see dolphins from the shore, a dolphin cruise is entertaining, especially if you have children. You can also see some wildlife and scenery that you wouldn't see otherwise and get a better picture of what the area looks like away from the beach.
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