When you spend time in the waters of Turks and Caicos, you're going to encounter the most amazing marine life, but you probably won't meet any creature as famous as the underwater socialite, JoJo. This Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin has a rare personality since he remains secluded from any other dolphin pack but still craves personal interaction. Because of it, he has made plenty of friends on the island, both people and dogs included.
JoJo's journey to becoming a Turks and Caicos national treasure began through his most notable friendship with Dean Bernal. While he was exploring some coastal reefs one day in 1984, Dean noticed a dolphin following him at a distance. Every day he took to the water, and every day he saw that the dolphin would come closer and closer. It didn't take long for a bond to form. Dean eventually moved to T&C so that his relationship with JoJo could carry on. He also sought to protect him as best he could from his own bad reputation. JoJo was known as a danger to visitors since people mistook his curiosity and personable nature as an invite to pet him. Take this as a warning that wild creatures, as friendly as they seem, will consider an outstretched arm as a threat. As you can imagine, it didn't take long for complaints made toward JoJo to reach the T&C government. Dean then became JoJo's #1 defense and fought with the officials who wanted JoJo removed, arguing that his aggression only stemmed from the people's misunderstanding about how to interact with a wild creature like him.
In the end, Dean won his case to keep JoJo out of captivity and to deem him an island treasure and resource rather than a dangerous nuisance.
In the late 90's Jay Sargent fell in love with JoJo and through her frequent experiences ended up writing a book about the friendly Bottlenose. You can find it here, its fascinating - www.jojoandjay.com
JoJo continues to brighten up the island with his wonderful presence and personality. So keep your eyes peeled on your next visit to Turks and Caicos, because there is a good chance you'll see him! He loves interacting with those around him, but take note that he is a legally protected part of wildlife, and both for your safety and his, it is against the law to touch him should you find him. Respect his area, and who knows! Maybe he'll introduce you to his mate, Chenoa, and son, MoJo!