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RIMS 2014 summary update
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Monday, 03 November 2014 21:07

Happy November! My flight home on Saturday was uneventful, with no stop overs to Belize!

Our field session to RIMS for 2014 was a good one, but as many of you have read ... it was wet. We had rain every day, which led to less than wonderful conditions for underwater clarity. Additionally, the dolphins were in a VERY curious mood toward the camera and me. Still, I returned with just under 2.5 hours of video for processing. I am relatively certain each of the dolphins was seen at least once underwater (so sketches will be complete and updated for 2014). Also, we collected about 5 hours of audio data with the SM2M recorder. It was deployed on Sunday afternoon and recovered on Friday at about noon. The visibility had dropped so much that I was only 2 feet away from the SM2M before I could see it to recover it! The audio is clean and will allow for some interesting, I hope, activity along the diurnal scale with respect to looking at dolphin vocal behavior.

We will conduct data processing over the next few months and provide an update in the winter issue of the Dolphin Gazette.

Thanks for your continued support! And, thank you to everyone at Anthony's Key Resort and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences for their support during our data collection trip.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Happy Halloween!!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Friday, 31 October 2014 22:54

Our last day of data collection began with more blue sky than we’ve seen all week! It was short-lived! We delayed my entry for observations until about 7:50 AM so that I’d finish up at about the time the trainers arrived for a session. Ronnie was still VERY inquisitive of me, but after a time-out session and a short “hand-to-pectoral fin” rub, he was done with the inquisitive behavior at me. Hmmmm … maybe he just wanted acknowledgement that I knew he was there, rather than me ignoring them and them ignoring me!

Teri asked me to record two training sessions – one with Ronnie and French and then one with Hector. Neat stuff really! I’ve been using a GoPro attached to the top of my MVA housing for a wider angle, and occasional above and below water views. This approach is handy when filming a training session.

I was able to sneak in one last observation session at 10 AM for about 20 minutes – only the mom/calf pairs were in the area I was recording and youngsters Calli, Polly, Tilly, Champ and Mac all checked me out, but then hung out with each other. There was lots of whistling and clicking to be heard.

Our team had their encounter session with Kim (trainer) and Maury. And, in the middle of the encounter the downpour deluge hit! They were all good sports but the heavy rain dropped underwater visibility to nearly nothing. So, the swim session was cancelled.

Just as the encounter finished, I hopped in to retrieve the SM2M from the piling. The visibility had dropped so much that I could not see the bright yellow tube until I was about 2 ft from it! Luckily, there was no current and I was able to snip the zip ties and swim the weights up to the surface. Thankfully Bill was there to help me get the weights onto the dock!

It has been raining (hard!) all day. But, our gear is now rinsed and mostly packed. The week went by quickly! I’ll upload a summary of the research conducted (data collected) once I get back to the USA.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Wet!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Friday, 31 October 2014 11:41

I woke to what I thought was someone lightly dancing on the roof of my cabin. Nope … just more rain. It apparently rained all night but the morning was thick clouds with occasional rain – from drizzle to down pours. The sun tried to make an appearance, but failed to extend its stay. Still, I was able to collect a bit of video this morning at about 6:30 AM. Ronnie greeted me with nudges. Not the welcome I wanted, but I accepted it. Calli and Polly were enthralled with the MVA faceplate this morning. Thus, our session was short.

After breakfast, Jeanne, Ron and I returned to Bailey’s Key to watch some of the programs and wait for Teri. We recorded a couple of training sessions with Ronnie and French and Hector and Han. They were practicing “tandem create” – the dolphins did some new behavior together. Hector and Han are pros at this behavior and Han is very creative. Ronnie and French need a bit more practice, but Ronnie’s infatuation with me/the MVA made him a poor student today. He simply targeted on the MVA faceplate when he should have been collaborating with French! It was hard not to laugh.

It was fun to watch the dolphins interact with each other and some of the RIMS guests. Our last morning of data collection with the MVA is tomorrow. I’m going to try going in a bit later (~7:45 AM). We’ll also pull up the SM2M after our team has their dolphin swim program a bit before noon. It’s been a good week!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Sunshine, Calm Seas, Good visibility and … Ronnie!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Thursday, 30 October 2014 02:01


The rain was prevalent again in the evening and early morning. But the day cleared a bit in the morning and offered good underwater visibility for a session in the morning. So, my team – all early risers – and I were on the taxi boat by 6:00 AM and I was in the water by 6:10 AM. I went in from the beach rather than a platform to see if that might divert Ronnie and the attention of some of the younger dolphins. And, for about ten minutes it did! Then, Ronnie found my fins and all bets were off. Polly and Calli seemed to delight in checking out the camera (MVA) and me. In this shot, Ronnie is taking a break from my fins to take in his reflection in the MVA front port (or so it seems).

Ronnie

I try very hard to have the dolphins ignore me when I collect data, as our focus is dolphin-to-dolphin communication. So, we do not touch, nor make eye contact nor play with the dolphins. But, now and then, they decide that I seem to be a good toy or item of interest, at the very least. Such is the case this week with Ronnie. But, each day, I can spend a bit more time in the session ignoring him and the others and focusing on their intra-specific interactions.

Bill and Lance did a dolphin dive this morning with Hector and Han – RIMS is one of the few places where the dolphins follow the boat out past the barrier reef for an open water dive. Han was enamored of Lance’s camera and watched him at depth for several seconds before surfacing for a breath. 

All in all – a very god day!

Tomorrow begins early again.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Time Out!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 21:36


I woke several times last night … to the sound of pouring rain and wind! But, when I looked at the visibility at 6 AM, it looked sort of ok. So, we trekked over the Bailey’s for me to collect some data. The gang was all out and I slipped into the water to really good visibility, albeit a tad dark due to the thick cumulous clouds overhead.

The dolphins – the younger ones – decided I was indeed their play toy. They poked at the hydrophone boxes – sort of like a little kid poking dad when he’s sleeping. That is, poke, run away and giggle! If no reaction, repeat. Not a game I wanted to play but they delighted in it! Still, I try to be ignored so I had to hop out onto the platform for a “dolphin time out”.

After 3 min, I hopped back in. Calli and Polly were not deterred! And soon thereafter, French, Ronnie and Ritchie all decided that my fins were just the best thing ever! So, it was best that I exited the water. I collected about a total of 10 min of video this morning.

I tried again at about 9:30 AM but the underwater visibility meant the dolphins actually had to be close for me to see them. You can see the dolphins were trying to coax me to stay in the water for more play!

end of AM session







So, today was spent reviewing the video from yesterday and confirming the rakes and other scars per dolphin ID. Bill and Lance will do a dolphin dive tomorrow morning – i.e., some of the dolphins here at AKR go out to do dives off the reef. Their dive will be after a data collection session in the morning (I hope!).

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Three Underwater Observation Sessions!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 02:56

What a way to start the field season at RIMS! Our first session began at 6:40 AM – I have four participants who are early risers like me! The underwater visibility was great and the dolphins were inquisitive and vocal and playful. It was nice to see Ritchie and Bill again and the youngsters from 2013 have grown! Calli is more raked that last year but also more rambuCallinctious! She’s the closer of the two dolphins in the photo.

The second session was of a “tandem create” training session with Hector and Han. They have learned to do behaviors together – but not just any behaviors but something new to the session. They cracked me up during one request – i.e., they both sort of swam down below me and looked like the forgot what they wanted to do. Then they swam back to each other like “Oh that’s right … together!”

Jeanne helped me during the next training session – i.e., we walked around the dock to look at all the younger animals closer up … to confirm their rake marks and other tiny scars. This will help us confirm who is who on the video data. The 3rd session was just after noon and it was not as good as the morning – the current had increased and the visibility dropped. There were also loads of moon jellyfish! Still, it was a good day overall!

I’ll be in the morning early again tomorrow – weather permitting.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Rain, Sun, Wind, Current … All in abundance today!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Sunday, 26 October 2014 22:41

We were greeted to a deluge of rain on waking! The wind joined the rain and the sound was like a freight train rumbling by! Luckily, the sun came out a bit later … but the wind remained all day. Rain, plus rolling breakers just outside the reef meant the underwater visibility was not good (technical term: yucky!). And, the sun, rain and wind were joined by a strong current across the reef. Thus, by the end of the day, the underwater visibility was improving.

Some of our team decided to try the morning dives, which actually provided better than expected visibility and numerous fish! The dives were on the south side of the island. While they dove, Bill and I prepped gear. The MVA is ready for use tomorrow morning. The SM2M was prepped and turned on. Bill helped me to deploy the SM2M during which time I was able to confirm first-hand that the current was STRONG! Still, 28 lbs of weight should keep the SM2M recorder in place, along with the strap keeping it snug to the piling. The dolphins paid zero attention to the SM2M or me while I strapped it into place. Here’s a picture of our deployment of the SM2M last year – everything is the same, except that this photo was from last year! (Bill and I had our hands full today, so no photos!)

alt

I’ll be hopping into the water at about 6:40 tomorrow morning for a data collection session. In conversation with David and Denry, we know that 22 dolphins are calling Bailey’s Key home. I look forward to saying a brief hi tomorrow morning and then trying to be as non-invasive as a jellyfish (so to speak) when I observe and record their interactions.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Welcome to Belize! … Wait, wrong country!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Sunday, 26 October 2014 12:11

My flight from Miami to Roatan began well! Check-in was smooth and security lines were short. The flight departed on time. As we neared Roatan, seemingly ready to prep for landing, the captain informed us the ceiling was too low. We’d have to circle for a bit of time. We tried our first attempt at landing about 25 min later … the wind shear had other ideas! Same thing for our second attempt! So, we headed to Belize to wait out the weather and refuel. About an hour later, we got the all clear … other flights were now landing at Roatan. We took off and headed back toward the Bay Islands of Honduras. The clouds seem to have broken up a bit, the sun was shining … until we got closer to Roatan. Our first attempt to land was less bumpy but still not an all clear. Another circle and we were soon low enough to see the insects on the canopy leaves! (Ok, maybe not that low, but it felt like it!)

Hurray! Touch down … and not the football kind, though we all cheered and clapped! Only 3.5 hours later than planned but we were here. The wind and the sea are very choppy and loud. Let’s hop it all calms down tonight so we can prep and deploy gear and begin collecting data tomorrow. And, of course, say hi to the dolphins!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
One Day to Go – All Packed!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Friday, 24 October 2014 13:22


My pile of gear is ready to go … I finished packing last night, much earlier than usual for a week of data collection!

But, everything is set – the SM2M, thBags for RIMSe MVA, and my mask, fins, snorkel and wet suit … and a few bits of clothing!

Today, I’ll pull together some files and other details to work on when not collecting and logging the data to be collected.

I’ve connected with the folks at RIMS and look forward to returning and to seeing and recording the dolphins this season.

I’ll update you on the dolphin group and our studies after arrival. I’m also hoping that tropical “something” from the Yucatan has dissipated!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
RIMS 2014 – or bust!
Roatan 2014
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 22:37

It is that time of year again! I’ve begun packing gear in prep for travel to Roatan to continue our studies of dolphin social behavior, acoustics and communication at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) at Anthony’s Key Resort. I am bringing the MVA2 and the SM2M passive acoustic recorder to continue documenting dolphin interactions and vocal behavior.

I depart on Saturday and will be at RIMS for a week. I’ll be joined by four participants – Bill, Ron, Lance and Jeanne. I’ll keep you posted on the update – the big question tomorrow is if I can get everything into two checked bags and two carry-ons!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Now Accepting Applications!
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:56

Bimini Flyer 2015_SHUApply to Sacred Heart University's Field Course in Cetacean Ecology and you can join DCP and Dr. Deirdre Yeater at our field site in Bimini, The Bahamas. With classroom sessions and meaningful discussion to provide background information, you'll be prepared for your time observing wild Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins - both above and below the surface! Click here for more details or head straight to SHU's website.

 
Can’t say we didn’t try…
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 20:03

 

On Wednesday, I joined what may have been DCP’s final boat trip of the year. Of course, I hope that other trips pop up throughout the fall and early winter, but this was the last trip on the calendar. And, it was a windy one! We departed with high hopes, but realistic expectations as the wind had picked up throughout the day. Sure enough, the seas had some guests snuggled inside, while others laughed at the sea spray in their faces. We diligently searched, but even when we found some (at least two) spotted dolphins, the rough and dark seas made it too difficult to keep tabs on them. Although the conditions were safe enough to continue looking, the guests opted to return to shore and save their efforts for their final dolphin trip, tomorrow.

Thanks to this group of Bimini Adventures passengers for being so welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon on the water with you as well as my visit earlier in the day. During my visit you asked fantastic questions and it was a highlight to share my stories of Bimini’s dolphins with you.

Cheers,
Kel

 
Land-based days still mean dolphins!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 25 August 2014 18:27

 

There is so much data processing to continue to catch up on, not to mention helping to finalize the next issue of The Dolphin Gazette, but I took a break on Monday to visit with the second round of students from Chicago City Day School aboard the Coral Reef II. This group was surprisingly perky given the not-so-calm Gulfstream crossing they had just completed. But, I suppose it is all part of their big adventure! It was blast sharing the details of DCP’s work and the importance of photo-identification with these budding scientists. Thank you all for your great questions and I hope you have an amazing week!

Now, back to work,
Kel

 
No, this doesn’t get old
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 25 August 2014 18:07

 

Thursday was my last chance to join this year’s Hunter College crew and we certainly made it count. Departing shortly after 1500, it wasn’t until 17:32 that we first saw dolphins. We could see the splashing in the distance and when we finally reached, there were a dozen spotteds. This number grew to 26, including at least 3 calves. Under water I am sure I saw Lil’ Jess (#35) and her calf, Tina (#14), Leslie (#80), Inka (#93) and “the boys,” Split Jaw (#22), Prince William (#64) and Speedy (#78). But, I am confident that we will be able to ID even more once we review the video and still photos. The juveniles of the group were active, possibly play fighting, but by the time they swam away, we could not follow them as we were quite far from home. Everyone was pleased with the day though, so we spent the ride home chatting on the bow and reflecting on our experiences!

Until next time,
Kel

 
No misses for this crew!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 25 August 2014 17:56

 

Wednesday was another busy day of dolphin observations for the Bimini Adventures guests. Before we were even completely clear of the harbor, we could see bottlenose dolphins in the perfectly blue Bimini water. This trio was headed south and although my quest for dorsal fin ID shots was interrupted by a passing yacht, it was very cool to watch the dolphins surf the wake – and make impressive leaps – toward the shore of South Bimini. Since these animals were on the move, we continued our search, and soon discovering a larger group of bottlenose dolphins. This group of 12 cruised under the boat and passed us, but the insanely clear water meant it was a very cool sight. As we continued once again, we saw another bottlenose dolphin on the move…

Over an hour later, the guests needed a wake up and a quick swim break did the trick. Then, at 16:30, we saw our first spotted dolphins of the day. The group was keen on bowriding and under water we got glimpses of an unfamiliar adult with a distinct right jaw and several calves. During our second underwater session, we saw familiar moms, including Tina (#14) and Lil’ Jess (#35). At 17:46 it was time to head home!

Until next time,
Kel

PS: Photo to follow!

 
Interns, my interns, where did you go?
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 14:51

 

On Monday I had to say goodbye (well, hopefully see you later) to Alexis. As I dropped her at the water taxi, I was wishing this year’s interns were staying forever! But alas, it was time for me to get readjusted to being the solo researcher on Bimini…

On Tuesday, I joined Hunter College’s dolphin trip with Bimini Adventures. The sun was hot, but the seas were flat, so we had high hopes of seeing every dolphin possible. Fairly early on we saw two bottlenose dolphins. The water was so clear we could see their every move from the boat. It appeared that they might have been searching for tasty, buried prey, but weren’t finding anything. Still, we hopped in to see if we could observe the search. With only a single dolphin in view, fairly far away and getting farther, we returned to the boat and our own search. It was a group nine bottlenose that next appeared and they were checking out the bow and swimming in a tight group. Soon, there were more bottlenose behind us and the groups appeared to combine. This time when we entered the water we saw a group of several in the distance as three dolphins approached us and slowly swam past. I’m hopeful that they were close enough, water visibility was good enough and their pass was perpendicular enough that we will be able to match catalogued dorsal fins to marks on their bodies.

Back on the boat, there was talk of the trip staying spotted-less, but Lil’ Jess (#35) and her older calf disagreed. Although they came to the boat and road the bow for quite some time, they had no interest in staying close once we were in the water. As we moved on, again, a second (presumed) mother-calf pair joined the bow as we found ourselves headed toward home. With everyone’s guard down, just outside the Bimini harbor, a group of at least 11 bottlenose dolphins gave us all one last chance for surface observations and DCP lots of images to be sorted!

Until next time,
Kel

PS: Photo to follow!

 
A fitting goodbye!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Sunday, 17 August 2014 14:44

 

BIM14_T48_SfsSaturday’s boat trip with Bimini Adventures was the last boat trip for Alexis before she leaves on Monday. We set off around 14:00 to make sure we could get our snorkel swim in and yet again, it seemed as though the dolphins had other plans for us. Like yesterday, in route to the snorkel stop (this time along the beaches of South Bimini) we ran into a widely dispersed group of 10-15 bottlenose. Alexis recognized a few fins matching the group we had seen the previous day. We hung around these guys for roughly 15 minutes (while Alexis took surface photos of their dorsal fins), but we did not jump in with them as we were in a high traffic area for boaters, since it was Saturday! Nonetheless, after everyone felt they got their fill we continued to our snorkel stop. The group enjoyed a leisurely swim and saw some really exciting fish and coral, as well as a sting ray and a barracuda! We all re-boarded the boat and headed in pursuit of more dolphins!  We had our next sighting just over an hour later. We spotted a group of 16 spotted dolphins, including many young individuals Alexis quickly recognized unnamed #102 in the bunch. We decided to try a swim and once in the water we also saw unnamed #70 among the group. We ended up having 6 separate encounters with this group and as time went on more and more dolphins showed up. Toward the end we had 25-30 spotteds and then were joined by two large bottlenose dolphins! Among the spotteds, unnamed #99, Prince William (#64), Tim (#69), Tina (#14), Leslie (#80) and an individual we fondly call Speedy’s-look-a-like (as this animal has yet to be given a number in the catalog) were all seen. During these encounters we observed large social groups, jawing, squawks, and chasing. It was an exciting group to be with and one that originally started mostly with calves and juveniles and ended mostly with adults, though a few youngsters stuck around! After almost 2 hours with this group we decided we needed to head back towards home. Everyone climbed back into the boat and settled up for the journey home. Once close to the shoreline we saw a pair of bottlenose traveling northeast. A few moments later we saw another group of about 10 individuals, but separated into 2 sub-groups also heading in that same direction. It was a nice treat to have additional sightings on our way back home!
 
All in all today was a great day full of snorkeling, bottlenose, and spotteds! It was a proper send off from the dolphins and Alexis couldn't have been happier!!!
 
So long,
Alexis & Kel

 
A long swim on a short boat day
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Saturday, 16 August 2014 15:03

BIM14_T47_TtFriday’s boat trip with Bimini Adventures started out with an early departure at 14:00 with the intention of snorkeling at Bimini Road. However, in route we stumbled upon 6 bottlenose dolphins crater feeding and no one wanted to pass up this observation session. Alexis got numerous surface photos while the group watched them from the boat. The passengers rotated in the water and Alexis joined them once confidence set in that each individual’s dorsal fin had been captured. Before we knew it we had been in the water with this group for almost an hour and a half! The dolphins spent most of their time crater feeding, but every time they came up to surface for air they were constantly buzzing and checking out the group! Alexis was able to recognize 2 of the bottlenose Tt20 (who is missing almost all of his right pectoral fin and whom we saw swimming with the many spotteds yesterday), as well as Tt15! It was exciting to have such a long encounter with this curious and yet focused group of dolphins. There were certainly times during the swim where I wondered who was observing whom, as I would often turn around to have a dolphin right behind me echolocating and checking me out! Eventually, as the visibility was dropping* and a storm with high winds was approaching, we decided it would be best to get back on board and head home. Luckily with such a good swim no one was disappointed!
 
Cheers,
Alexis & Kel

 

*The new cruise ship was hovering in the area all afternoon. We wonder if the boat’s constant maneuvering is what affected the visibility so dramatically. Hmmmm…

 
A once in a lifetime kind of day!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 15 August 2014 20:01

 

BIM14_T46_LPGTimThursday did not start out like any other, nor did it end like one. Kel and Alexis said goodbye to Lauren as she headed back to the States. We were sad to see her go, but had to refocus for our boat trip in the afternoon. We left at 15:00 with our, literal, boatload of Hunter College students. Fairly early on we ran into 3 bottlenose dolphins traveling north. We stayed with the bottlenose for a bit, but then continued in hopes of more dolphins! About an hour later we spotted a small group of roughly 6 spotted dolphins, including a young sub-adult that we have been trying to get images of all summer. They hoped on our bow and started quickly travelling northeast. We kept following and following them as they never seemed to slow their pace. Off in the distance we started to notice what looked to be like a lot of splashing – there was so much activity at the surface, it almost looked like an active boat wake, with no boat. The closer we got, we realized there were TONS of dolphins ahead of us and our 6 bow riders were leading us straight to them! Soon enough we had dolphins everywhere; so many in fact that we couldn’t keep count! At one point there were probably anywhere from 50-75 dolphins scattered about leaping out of the water (including Tim, #69, pictured here), porpoising along the surface, and chasing (and catching) fish in every direction! Even a bottlenose (or more?) joined the group! There were so many dolphins and so much excitement in the water you didn’t even know where to look! Because these large groups are so unusual for this area, we do not have a tested method for estimating group size. But, Kel and our captains agreed it was the largest, most active group they’d ever seen. Eventually Kel slid into the water, with the guests, to try to get underwater video and still photos. They had 3 encounters with varying individuals. The number of dolphins had lessened but there were still many scattered about. From the boat, Alexis recognized Romeo (#10) with a group of about 5 other spotteds. It started getting pretty late, and we were a ways from the island, not to mention the very dark cloud with lightening was looming in the distance and moving our way, so we got everyone back on the boat and headed toward home. Quickly dolphins came back to our bow and stayed with us for some of the ride home. Leslie (#80) and her calf (unnamed #99) and Inka (#93) were among them. After about 10 minutes they left us and we continued on, full steam ahead, to Bimini.
 
Today was an amazing day; one that was filled so many dolphins, behaving in a way that is very unusual around here. Although we came home with more questions than answers about which dolphins were present, what brought them together and what exactly they were doing, it was beyond exciting for us to be able to have witnessed something so rare!
 
All the best,
Alexis & Kel

 
Worth the wait
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 14:40

 

BIM14_T45_TinaWednesday’s trip was not only Lauren’s last trip for the year but we also had Kel on board so we were hoping for a day full of dolphins! We were off to a good start seeing at least 3 spotted eagle rays as we were leaving the channel between North and South Bimini. A bit over an hour later we then had a turtle sighting, as it just cruised past our boat. But when almost 3 full hours had passed and we hadn’t seen a single dolphin yet, some folks were starting to get a bit bummed out. Finally though (patience in this kind of work is key) we saw a big splash and headed in that direction. As we got closer glimmering dorsal fins began to appear and everyone’s spirits lifted. We approached a group of 3 dolphins, including 2 male calves, one of which was very tiny and an adult female, Juliette (#12)! Kel and Lauren geared up with some of the Hunter College students to hop in the water for an encounter while Alexis stayed on the bow to help keep track of the animals. Juliette seemed to “let” the two youngsters push her to the sea floor with their rostrums, before a bout of socio-sexual interactions. As the encounter progressed all of a sudden Tina (#14, pictured here) appeared in the group. It seemed we had two mother/calf pairs and from the boat, Alexis observed the energetic calves bow riding and tail slapping. Lauren and Kel had an awesome encounter and were able to record (through underwater video and stills) some really fun and interesting behaviors, including possible nursing by one calf from Tina. Eventually we left the group, but we were all happy Lauren had a good farewell from the dolphins! As we were heading home we saw a few dolphins leaping out of the water in the distance. As it was getting late, we continued on home with high spirits and happy hearts!
 
Catch you later,
Lauren, Alexis & Kel

 
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