In January, I made a quick visit to JLR’s Devbagh Beach Resort, off Karwar. There were good sightings of common birds around the camp: White-throated Kingfisher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Brahminy Kite, Flame-backed Woodpecker, drongos (racket-tailed and grey), orioles, waders, seagulls, and sea eagles. The camp’s naturalists told me that boat rides offer a good opportunity to sight dolphins. After breakfast, as I was getting ready for my boat ride, we heard that some dolphins were close to the shore; I just grabbed my camera and ran to the beach. It was low tide: probably the best time for dolphins to fish in the shallow sea. There were at least over eight dolphins, and I started photographing their activity.

As it was difficult to predict where the dolphins would emerge from the water, I was doing my best guess-work to capture any interesting behaviour. All of a sudden, a White-bellied Sea Eagle, probably a resident one, started soaring over these dolphins. I thought that it would be great to capture both the sea eagle and the dolphin in a single frame, and started tracking the eagle. The eagle went close to the sea a few times, and I shot a few frames with both the eagle and the dolphins, but none of them were very interesting.

While I was still tracking the eagle, it suddenly swooped down, and before I could even realise, went very close to a dolphin to steal the fish it had in its mouth. I had never seen anything like this before! Though it was a failed attempt at snatching the fish, I was glad I could capture this very rare natural history behaviour. I waited for more than hour after this, but nothing happened. I tried the next day as well, saw some dolphins, but didn’t see this behaviour again. I checked with naturalists at the resort who have been there since several years, and none of them had seen anything like it. It was truly a blessed moment for me, and I would rate this sighting above any big cat sighting.