JoJo is a wild dolphin living in the waters around the Turks and Caicos Islands. Though he was declared a ‘national treasure’ two decades ago, spotting JoJo is a rare feat and only a lucky few get a glimpse of this incredible dolphin. A few weeks ago, my friends and I were lucky enough to see JoJo and snap a few pictures.
JoJo’s Incredible Story
JoJo is a rare dolphin who, while living in his natural environment, willingly interacts with humans. He doesn’t live in captivity and doesn’t perform in shows, which is why spotting him is rare. Wild dolphins like JoJo swim in shallow waters where it is easier for humans to interact with them. This also means, unfortunately, that it is easier for people to harm or provoke the dolphins.
In the late 1980s, JoJo was considered a “tourist liability” after he reportedly attacked humans. He was being exploited and treated as a pet and, like humans, was acting out. Dean Bernal stepped in and petitioned the Ministry of Natural Resources to keep JoJo from being placed in captivity. He explained that JoJo was simply attempting to defend himself from human harassment.
In 1989, JoJo was declared a national treasure in Turks and Caicos. Dean Bernal was appointed his official warden. Dean created the JoJo Project to raise awareness and protect not only JoJo but the natural wildlife and habitats throughout the islands. Since its founding, the project has helped to establish 33 national parks and protected areas in Turks and Caicos to safeguard the islands’ shores and coral reefs.
Seeing JoJo Up Close
Did you know that the life expectancy for dolphins in the wild is 60-90 years?! JoJo is still youthful and was very active when we spotted him. He was following our boat, jumping out of the water and happily interacting with us. Like humans, dolphins experience emotions and don’t appreciate uninvited touching and they don’t want to be provoked. If you’re lucky enough to spot JoJo while in the Turks and Caicos, enjoy the rare occasion and act respectfully.