I waited for the air temp to come up a bit and then took the boat

I waited for the air temp to come up a bit and then took the boat out to Cayo Costa yesterday afternoon (~2-4 PM) I searched quite intensively all around the pass and on the gulf which were amazingly clm and flat. Starting around the coaling docks on the Boca side then all around the flats on the Cayo Costa side. 

I spotted a single Razorbill just east of the small island that is visible at low tide NE of the northern tip of Cayo Costa (surface temp was 66 degrees here). I then worked my way south along the east shore zig-zagging from 100 yards to near 1/2 mi offshore. The sea was VERY calm and birds and buoys on the surface were very easily seen. Despite this, I was amazingly unable to find any more razorbills or gannets, or scoters… only Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, and Common Loons. I continued through the southern pass and circum-navigated the entire island but the single Razorbill was all I found. I honestly expected dozens. 

I did see greater than 50 Dolphins on the run including a pod with very tiny youngsters (are baby dolphins "calves" as well?!?…) Also, about halfway down the gulf side of Cayo Costa island I noted major rips on the surface followed by Dolphins frantically diving. I turned the boat toward the commotion casually telling my wife, son and guests aboard, "Cool, the dolphins are chasing fish over here." Well I was right but not in the way I thought. 

I'd motored down and was dead drifting into the area where the pod was working when a huge swirl appeared just off the bow and 18 inches of triangular tan dorsal rose out of the water coming straight toward us. It spun quickly right with a massive toothed caudal fin (about ~5 feet behind) pushing a massive wave at us. The huge fish left a massive swirl just 8' off our bow and two large dolphins were flanking it in hot pursuit. "Holy (expletive), huge Hammerhead Shark right here!!!!" was all I could get out as I pointed like a mad man. Unfortunately, the water was surprisingly murky so you couldn't see far underwater at all. Would have been cool to see the huge hammer-shaped head. We were in about 10' of water and the chase took place over a large area so it was hard to know exactly where the shark was going to surface. There were dolphins ringing us in a 200' wide circle, but when the shark got near the surface there was just a hint of what was coming as
 it made a decent wake ahead of it and there were usually always one or two larger dolphins nearby. Toward the outside of the dolphin ring, I saw at least two adult dolphins swimming with little ones, the youngsters always riding right on the outside of the ring (away from the massive shark). Not exactly sure of the size of this fish given the murkiness of the water, but suffice to say it was notably larger than even the biggest dolphin here. I'd guess it was at minimum 9-10' long. BIG, big fish… The event lasted about 3-4 minutes but the adrenaline rush remained. Amazingly I couldn't convince anyone to go tubing or wake boarding after this! ;p

Good birding,

Jeff Bouton
Port Charlotte, FL

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