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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The "JoJo: Part I - The Legend" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading about JoJo the dolphin in a variety of publications and thinking back to the mid-2000s and the time that Carol and I had an encounter with JoJo on the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands.  We were visiting a marina on the island, checking about scheduling a snorkeling trip for Carol and myself as well as our friends Jerry and Just Sue.  As we were standing on the dock, Carol pointed out a fin in the water beneath the dock and we realized it was a dolphin.  
JoJo as photographed by Sydney
Someone yelled it was JoJo so in we jumped to try and swim with the famous dolphin.  He came close to us, but finally swam away.  Exciting experience even if we didn't get to swim with him.  JoJo is a male Atlantic Bottlenose dophin who has made his home in the coastal waters of the Caicos Cays since the early 1980s.  There are only eight dolphins in the world that are known to seek out the company of humans with JoJo being the most famous.  Dolphins such as JoJo can live forty to fifty years and grow to be about eight feet in length and weigh close to 250 pounds.  Many of the residents, as well as visitors to the islands, have had the chance to interact with JoJo since he first made the T&C Islands his home territory.  
Very early photo of JoJo interacting with humans.
He is the rare example of a mammal that interacts with humans in his own environment.  Many people have reported sighting JoJo while many others claim to have swam with him.  Seems he enjoys swimming with humans, but doesn't enjoy unsolicited touching which can be dangerous to both the dolphin as well as the  human.  At one point JoJo was reported as having attacked several humans, but this was unproven.  
Photo of Dean Bernal who is said to be JoJo's best friend and
who petitioned the Turks & Caicos Ministry of Natural Resources
stating that JoJo should be protected as a unique resource.
Many said the dolphin was only defending himself from unwanted human advances.  Finally in 1989 JoJo was declared a "National Treasure" in the Turks & Caicos Islands. He has become a symbol for nature conserva- tion in the Turks & Caicos Islands where Marine Turtles, migrating whales, schools of wild dolphins and a variety of rare birds can be found.  The island's government has committed itself to protect their fragile natural heritage and to help preserve JoJo's home.  There are 27 national parks and protected areas in the islands which help safeguard their pristine shores and coral reefs.  Follow along tomorrow as I tell the story of JoJo and Randy, a friend whom Carol and I had the chance to meet during our visit to the islands in 2012.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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