JoJo the Dolphin is a wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) that freely interacts with humans. In 1989 this dolphin was declared a National Treasure by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. JoJo is a male dolphin weighing about 880 pounds (400 kg) and approximately 10 feet (3 m) in length, and is different from other dolphins in that he voluntarily interacts with humans.
Dean Bernal, a wildlife advocate from the United States, visited the Turks and Caicos in 1981 and settled in the islands in 1986. It was during this time he struck a friendship with the dolphin during his daily swims, and his work has greatly promoted the conservation of JoJo, other wild dolphins, and general marine conservation in the Turks and Caicos.
In recent years, another wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Dreamer the Dolphin, has shown similar behavior to JoJo, and will often interact with snorkelers, swimmers, and boats. This juvenile was likely born in the Turks and Caicos, and may be related to JoJo. Also like JoJo, he and his mother may be seen in the waters off the Caicos Cays and in the Caicos Banks off of Providenciales and North Caicos.
Where to See JoJo
As JoJo is a wild animal, there isn't any guaranteed location or time to see him. He’s frequently seen swimming in the waters off Grace Bay Beach, and in the cays off the eastern end of Providenciales.
It’s easy to identify him because of unfortunate propeller scars on his back, and you’ll have a good chance of seeing him if you spend some time boating in the Grace Bay area, but remember, NEVER touch any marine animal or reef, as dolphins may attack if provoked.
JoJo has become a symbol of marine conservation in the Turks and Caicos, especially in regard to the proposed captive dolphin facilities in Grand Turk and Providenciales. Bumper stickers with ‘JoJo says NO to captive dolphins’ were widely circulated in opposition to the proposed dolphinariums, and can still be seen on vehicles today.
More information about JoJo and Dean Bernal can be found on the Dean and JoJo Story site.
JoJo is a friendly dolphin and swims up to people, but DO NOT attempt to touch him or feed him.