Home
  • Dolphin Communication Project
  • Dolphin Communication Project
  • Dolphin Communication Project
  • Dolphin Communication Project
  • Dolphin Communication Project
Dolphin Communication Project
No such luck
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 01 August 2014 03:37

 

Wednesday’s trip was a big trip for us. We were fortunate enough to have Kel join all three interns on the boat and it was also Amy’s very last boat trip for the season, as she was heading back to the States to finish the office portion of the internship. So we headed out with high hopes. It was a hot day, so after we had been out for about an hour everyone agreed a swim break was completely and utterly necessary. Everyone hopped in to cool off and regain their mental strength in this body breaking warmth! We all got back on board and continued our search. Unfortunately, we came up short with absolutely no dolphins. Even though it was a bummer, this is what happens sometimes and we were at least happy to have been on the boat, searching for dolphins. Kel is beginning to feel cursed though, since her last three “big boat” trips with Bimini Adventures have been dolphin-less! In all fairness, the weather was rough on the previous two trips, but still, let’s hope that the curse is not true since she’s coming with us again tomorrow!!!
 
Toodles,
Amy, Lauren, Alexis & Kel

 
Choppy seas and playful dolphins
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 12:54

 

BIM14_T35_C3Tuesday began with a beach cleanup for the Bimini team! We collected 10 garbage bags and 2 recycling bags worth of trash around the south tip of North Bimini. It was a great way for us to give back to the island by means of leaving it cleaner than when we found it!
 
In the afternoon the interns went out on another boat trip with Bimini Adventures (again thanks to the donations of those supporting DCP). The trip started out with a very small shark swimming super-fast along the surface! Roughly an hour later we came across a group of 4 small spotted dolphins. The group consisted of 2 tiny calves, one sub-adult, and one juvenile. They were very playful, riding the bow and zigging and zagging across the water surface. Soon after, 3 more dolphins, specifically 2 calves and Inka (#93) joined the group. At this point we decided to hop in the water and see if the dolphins would stick around. Our first encounter was fairly brief as the dolphins stayed on the periphery of our group and the water chop made it a bit more of a challenge to keep up. We got back on the boat and decided to try again. Everyone geared up, while captain Audley positioned the boat better for us. Everyone slid back in one more time hoping the dolphins might be a bit more interactive, and to our delight they were! We observed the young dolphins for just over 30 minutes and during this time were able to see an attempted nursing event, object play (with some garbage, which we eventually balled up and threw away) and to our surprise, more dolphins which join us in the end. By the end, we had at least 10 young (mostly calf and juvenile) dolphins, as well as 2 bottlenose in the mix. In this larger group we also saw Speedy (#78), Juliette (#12), Niecey (#48), and unnamed #99. After all that fun it seemed like the dolphins were done with us so we climbed back on the boat and headed toward shore. On our way in we were greeted by 4 more spotteds who sneakily snuck up to the bow of the boat undetected. Only once they started bow riding did we even realize they were there. They took a quick ride with us and then left us behind as we continued home.
 
All in all it was an amazing day; one we were lucky to be a part of!! Thank you all and hopefully our week will continue with such luck!
 
Happy trails,
Lauren, Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 
Surrounded by Spotteds
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 14:58

 

BIM14_T34_SfsMonday was another perfect day on the water for the interns; we secured research spaces with Bimini Adventures thanks to the generous donations of DCP supporters! Much like yesterday, we sighted a group of crater feeding bottlenose dolphins not long after leaving the dock. They seemed very busy at work, so we passed by with the hope of finding a more interactive group. At 16:15 we were victorious, meeting up with at least 20 very playful Atlantic spotted dolphins. There were many males in the group, including Prince William (#64), Split Jaw (#22), Speedy (#78) and #104 (Swoosh's unnamed, now-independent calf). Leslie (#80) and her calf (unnamed #99) were also in the mix. We slid into the water for an encounter, which turned into five separate encounters because the current kept carrying us away from the dolphins. Although we repeatedly had to leave the water to catch up with them, the dolphins did not mind our presence, and altogether we stayed with the same group for two hours! We were delighted by this group's antics, as we observed a variety of interesting behaviors, including pectoral fin contact, body rubbing, leaps, "object play" with seaweed and even jaw claps and tail slaps,. At one point a group of five dolphins settled themselves onto the sand, resting still on the sea floor as if lying in a bed. In another instance, Alexis was filming one dolphin who stopped swimming to hang vertically in front of her camera, as if it was having a staring contest with her! As you can probably tell, it's so much fun swimming with a large group of interactive spotteds, but it also gives us the chance to document tons of dolphin communication and general behavior! After we eventually left this group to head home, we had one more happy moment of sighting another group of spotted dolphins. There was a very tiny calf among them who leaped clear out of the water as if putting on a show for us! Needless to say, we are all feeling ecstatic after such a fabulous day; thanks again for getting us on the boat DCP supporters!

In-a-while-crocodile,
Amy, Alexis, Lauren, and Kel

PS: Not sure what we’re talking about with these “thank you supporters” references? Kel did a mad-dash fundraiser this week to help ensure research space on the boat. You can continue to support our research efforts by making a donation today!

 
A good start, but a slow ending!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 28 July 2014 17:57

 

BIM14_T33_TtSunday’s dolphin trip was what seemed to be off to a great start when we spotted a small group of bottlenose dolphins in 15 minutes of departing! The group of roughly five bottlenose dolphins was right off of North Bimini, and the passengers were able to have a brief encounter with them. The dolphins were much more interested in crater feeding than interacting with us, and the current was very strong so staying with the dolphins became difficult. After deciding to move on we unfortunately did not see any more dolphins. Another boat alerted Bimini Adventures and generously offered to let us share the group of dolphins they were interacting with, but not wanting to intrude we decided to continue looking for our own group (operators off Bimini try not to overwhelm or harass the dolphins with multiple boats). Luck was not on our side as we were unable to locate other dolphins. Our hopes are high for tomorrow and with the great conditions we’ve been having the last few days we are sure it will be a great day!
 
That’s all folks!
Alexis, Lauren, Amy, & Kel

PS: The interns will be on tomorrow’s dolphin trip thanks to generous donations to Kel’s “Quick! Get my interns on a boat!” fundraiser. We’re just $50 away from the goal that will also guarantee boat time on Tuesday. Make your donation today!

 
A day full of surprises!!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Sunday, 27 July 2014 19:41

 

BIM14_T32_spottedsSaturday began with a day off for the interns. So as the trio slept in and enjoyed a bit of a lazy morning, Kel was prepping for a trip with Bimini Adventures. To everyone’s surprise, we received an email around noon stating Bimini Undersea was also going out on a trip today and kindly offered spots to the interns! We were delighted to hear this and scraped our day off for another work day and a boat trip!
 
Kel departed around 13:00 and fairly soon after we found 3 eagle rays swimming quickly. As the film crew onboard was interested in more than just dolphins, they spent some time filming a different spotted creature of Bimini. Almost immediately after the eagle rays, we saw a group of crater feeding 7 bottlenose. The crew spent about 30 minutes filming this group, while Kel stayed above water collecting dorsal fin photographs.  Almost an hour later they came upon over 20 spotted dolphins. In this group were a few familiar, but not yet cataloged individuals, including an adult spotted with a “super funky” cut up dorsal fin, as well as a dolphin that looks like a slightly different, yet younger version of Romeo (#10). This group stuck around for over an hour and the crew had numerous encounters with the many dolphins. Eventually we called it a day and headed home with a very exciting and successful trip to wrap up the week.
 
Meanwhile, the three intern ninja turtles were graciously picked up around 3:45 by Bimini Undersea. Almost immediately after we turned out of the channel to head up the coastline we saw 2 bottlenose dolphins crater feeding. Alexis recognized one of them, missing half of its right pectoral fin, from a trip last week. We watched them from the bow for some time, but then continued on in pursuit of more dolphins. Moments later, we saw 3 bottlenose dolphins, again crater feeding, including the same dolphin with the damaged pec fin. Like the previous sighting, we stuck with them for a bit, but then continued on for more dolphins. About 30 minutes later, we found what we thought were only 2 spotted dolphins (which looked like a mom and calf pair), but once we jumped in the water we found that at least 10 more dolphins had joined in for the fun! We spent about 30 minutes with this group which included Swoosh (#36) and Romeo (#10), both in this picture. Even Stefran (#82) who DCP hasn’t seen in almost a full year was there!!! We also think we saw Vincent (#11), which would really be cool since we have not been able to get photos or video of this adult male in several years. It was a delight to be able to swim with all these dolphins! Everyone was so happy and full of excitement when we got back on the boat. At that point we had lost sight of the dolphins and were heading back towards home when about 3 spotteds did a very, very quick swim-by and then disappeared one more time. It was a wonderful trip and so exciting to see so many dolphins we knew! Thank you Bimini Undersea!
 
Hopefully tomorrow is another day full of dolphins!!! Fingers crossed!
 
Keep on keeping on,
Lauren, Amy, Alexis, & Kel

PS: Click here to check out Kel's CrowdRise fundraising page to help fund boat trips later this week. She's nearly at her goal!

 
Ladies & Gentlemen....We have a match!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Sunday, 27 July 2014 02:17

 

With no boat trip on Friday the interns were able to finally catch up on some more data analysis. The day was full of identifying dolphins. We are all very excited to announce that we have a new dolphin confirmed in our catalog, ID#104! This male spotted dolphin is the calf of Swoosh (#36) and although we have been following him for several years, he only became recognizable by his spot pattern last year. On his right side there are three spots (like Orion’s belt), as well as a small nick in his dorsal fin. We are happy to have a new addition and very, very happy to know his mother!
 
Adios amigos,
Lauren, Alexis, Amy, & Kel

 
Soooo many dolphins!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 25 July 2014 15:52

BIM14_T30_SfCalfIt was another exciting day on the water for DCP researchers! Kel and the Parallax Film Productions crew got an early start. During a swim break, we were visited by a group of at least 10 spotted dolphins. We hopped in the water quickly and were pleased that two mother/calf pairs stuck around: Lil' Jess (#35) and her female calf and un-named #70 and hers. We thought that Lil’ Jess looked suspiciously plump – maybe she is pregnant again! Soon, this foursome was interrupted by a group of at least 8 dolphins, who appeared to be mainly adult males, including Lumpy (#17) and un-named #24 and #75. Later, after spending some time filming in deeper water, Kel and crew encountered the same group of spotted dolphins, plus a few new additions, including Speedy (#78) and Prince William (#64). As if that wasn't enough excitement, we also saw two bottlenose dolphins on our way back to the dock.

Meanwhile, interns Amy, Alexis, and Lauren headed out for an afternoon dolphin trip. The ocean was almost as placid as a lake and shining blue, with clear skies overhead, so we had high hopes of seeing dolphins! At 16:00 we were rewarded by the sight of four crater-feeding bottlenose dolphins who came to ride the bow for a minute, letting us get a close-up view. Then, at 17:38, we were approached by two spotted dolphins wishing to lazily ride the bow. Similar to our experience yesterday, we discovered that when we tried to join the dolphins in the water they swam away but as soon as the boat's engines cranked up, they were back at the bow! Apparently they thought the boat was more fun than us! We had a series of similarly brief encounters with these and a few other spotted dolphins. At 18:50 we spied two bottlenose dolphins crater feeding. We observed them for a few minutes, but the sun was sinking low in the sky so we decided to start heading in. On our way, we cruised right into a new group of at least 20 spotted dolphins. Not wanting to pass by such a large group, we slid into the water for one last snorkeling attempt. This time, happily, the dolphins didn't ditch us right away, so we had the chance to snap a few photos. One calf (pictured) was particularly playful, zipping circles around Amy while whistling and releasing a bubble stream from its blow hole. This was an exciting conclusion to a very eventful day!

Thanks to Bimini Adventures (and their guests!) for all the great boat time!

 

Cowabunga pals ,
Amy, Alexis, Lauren, & Kel

 
Dolphins everywhere!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 25 July 2014 15:37

BIM14_T28_CalfOn Wednesday, Kel departed with Bimini Adventures' first boat just before 1300. The sun was shining, but there was a solid chop to the sea. Still, the crew was optimistic that their patience was going to pay off. Several hours later, optimism was fading! As happens, time and time again, the dolphins show us who is boss – and we saw a group of spotteds near the interns and Bimini Adventures’ second boat! We confirmed 7 spotteds near us, including an adult, a younger sub-adult (possibly Speedy, #78), a juvenile – who will soon be entered into our catalog, and four other young dolphins. The young dolphins came very close to the Parallax cameraman and showed him some great social, tactile behaviors as the adult seemed to hover off to the side. Soon after it was a crater feeding extravaganza with bottlenose dolphins, all the while we could see the second boat with the interns…
 
After just an hour of searching Lauren, Amy, and Alexis found a group of around 15 spotted dolphins! We quickly went into the water and although most of the group didn’t stick around long, we still interacted with dolphins for over an hour! All of the interns agree that the dolphins were in a strange mood today, as they all were in a very lackadaisical state. Four of the dolphins stayed near the bow almost the entire time, clearly wanting to bow ride by slapping its fluke at us! We were able to snap a few pictures, but they seemed more interested in the bow of the boat. Suddenly we saw a group of around 10 bottlenose dolphins crater feeding and even saw a dolphin leap after a jumping fish! The water was too deep to collect data, so we decided to leave the dolphins and head back home. We were all very excited to have such an eventful day!
 
Peace out, 
Lauren, Alexis, Amy, & Kel

 
Ohhh dolphins, where are you???
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:57

 

BIM14_T26_Bowriding64_22_78Tuesday was a day full of dolphin trips! Kel departed around 13:00 with Bimini Adventures. Even though Kel and crew stayed out until almost 18:00, they unfortunately didn’t see any dolphins. Though that was a bit of a bummer, spirits are still high as this crew has a few more days on the boat.
 
The intern trio also had a boat trip (with Bimini Adventures, as well), which left around 15:00. Aside from seeing a sea turtle and a shark swimming above a small reef, they were off to a similar start: where were the dolphins? But then, after the boat had already turned around and started heading back toward Bimini, Alexis spotted a group of four bottlenose dolphins at 17:59. They seemed to be sticking around, so we jumped in the water for a very quick encounter. We were surprised to see the bottlenose not crater feeding, but rather in a group social ball which involved a lot of pectoral fin and body rubbing. The encounter was brief (but exciting) as the animals were much less interested in us and moving fairly quickly. Almost an hour after we first saw the bottlenose, a group of four spotted dolphins (including 2 very small calves) came swimming right up to the bow of the boat. We once again geared up and hopped in for another very quick encounter. Like before, the dolphins seemed less interested in us and more interested in getting a free ride from the wake of the boat, so we jumped back onboard. Luckily for us, the dolphins were still very interested in bow riding and along with three additional spotted dolphins, rode the bow of the boat for over 15 minutes. We saw some familiar spots in this group including those of, Split Jaw (#22), Speedy (#78), and Prince William (#64, all pictured here). It seemed as though the boys were having a bit of a joy ride this afternoon! Eventually all the dolphins left and we continued on our way toward home. Off in the distance captain Audley spotted a few dolphins (likely bottlenose), but as it was getting late we continued home to shore.
 
Both Kel and the interns have more dolphin trips tomorrow, so hopefully we will both come back with exciting news of dolphin sightings and encounters!
 
Catch ya on the flipside,
Lauren, Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 
So, about that rain coat…
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 01:49

BIM14_21JulyMonday began with odds and ends as Kel prepped for a boat trip with Bimini Adventures and Parallax Film Productions. The boat departed at 1245 with storm clouds looming. We were hopeful that the storms would miss us and the dolphins would be plentiful, but neither was the case! Still, it was an exciting day of filming for the crew; as we searched for dolphins, they spotted a large loggerhead turtle. Quickly the cameraman was in the water, not expecting much. Boy was he surprised! This turtle came so close, filming was actually a challenge. The observation was so long that Captain Al actually had to call the crew back to the boat – the storm was closing in. It was quite possibly the wetness ride back toward Bimini we’ve ever experienced, but going slow and steady we knew we were safe with Al. After the rain cleared, we made another loop in search of dolphins, but only saw a lone and elusive bottlenose.  

Meanwhile, Alexis & Amy worked on data processing (including still photos from our boat trips last week and videologs from 2012) while Lauren (our newest intern in Bimini) was in transit, on her way to join us. Amy and Alexis anxiously awaited her arrival and greeted her as she got off the water taxi! Lauren arrived safe and sound, but with a few hiccups, as she almost missed her flight and had to throw out a few items in order to get her bags through security, including all of her sunscreen!

Lauren settled into Bimini life quickly and was excited to hear about a surprise boat trip planned with Bimini Undersea. Unfortunately, a pretty bad squall came through which canceled that trip (the same squall Kel was stuck in), so instead the interns introduced Lauren to the data processing side of field research in Bimini. 

Since the interns’ boat trip was canceled, we were able to attend a town meeting with some Bahamian environmental figures including a representative from BREEF, BNT, Waterkeeper Alliance, and The Nature Conservancy. This meeting was to discuss the proposal of turning the Bimini mangroves into a marine reserve (aka, Marine Protected Area or MPA). We enjoyed hearing about the conservation and development issues from a scientific standpoint, as well as from tourists/return tourists who deeply care about Bimini and the health and future of the local ecosystem.

 

Until next time,
Lauren, Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 

 
A land-based day of dolphin chats and data entry
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Saturday, 19 July 2014 02:41

 

Friday morning we spoke to a group of high school students visiting Bimini on a field trip. Although it was an early start for many of them, you could tell they were ready and eager to listen. Kel began by discussing DCP and our research focusing on the dolphins around Bimini. Amy and Alexis helped with discussing the various ways to identify individuals and answering a few of the students’ questions. At the end of the talk we had a very lively discussion on the proper ways to swim with wild dolphins. We discussed the difference between chasing and swimming alongside the animals, as well as being respectful and not touching the dolphins. Thank you to the group for allowing us to come in and chat with you!

After our talk, Amy and Alexis went for a grocery run. For those that don’t know, groceries are shipped to Bimini from Florida once a week; so you have to go soon after the shipment arrives (usually Thursdays) if you want the good stuff! Once we gathered everything we needed, we headed back to the house to unpack our food and start some data processing. We worked on identifying still photos of the spotted dolphins and entering sightings data from our boat trips earlier this week. We also spent some time IDing dolphins for the 2012 video log. Did she just say 2012…? Yep, we are a bit behind with so much data and not enough hours in the day to get caught up, but we are hoping to make a pretty serious dent in the catch up game! Wish us luck!

Later gators,
Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 
A dolphin-filled day without dolphins
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 18 July 2014 15:25

 

BIM14_SheddHSMB2Thursday began with a DCP presentation to a new group of students aboard the Coral Reef II for Shedd Aquarium’s High School Marine Biology Program. Kel presented a PowerPoint while Alexis and Amy chimed in to answer questions and share their experiences. It was an engaging group of students full of thoughtful questions and smart ideas. The discussion ranged from what we know about dolphin interspecies interactions to the frequency of shark attacks in Bimini to how we might study dolphin personality to the meaning of pectoral fin contact between dolphins. What a positive way to start the morning! Thank you to everyone involved for inviting us.

Sadly our afternoon boat trip with Bimini Adventures was postponed due to another bout of stormy weather. When we finally left the dock at 17:00, we only had time for a short trip out to the undersea ruins of “Bimini Road” for a passenger snorkel. We hoped we might see dolphins on the way, but no such luck. We’ll wish for better success next time!

Cowabunga dudes,
Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 
Wind, white caps, and rain…oh my!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Friday, 18 July 2014 15:01

BIM14_T22_stormcloudsWednesday’s adventures began with a nice talk with the guests of Bimini Adventures. We met with the group around 1300 and discussed DCP, the dolphin population around Bimini, and the research conducted. Kel led the chat; while Amy and Alexis assisted with answering the many fantastic questions we were asked. It was wonderful discussing things that everyone in the room seemed so curious and passionate about. Thanks to this group for their support!

A little later we prepared for our boat trip, which left at its usual 15:00 start time, but this time we were lucky enough to have Kel join us on the boat! With a windy morning, the seas were a bit choppier than we have had the past few days, but nothing, not even a few waves could stop us; or so we thought. Although the waves didn’t pose a problem and actually calmed down the longer we were on the boat, a storm (pictured here) was looming off in the distance potentially threatening our trip. We managed to stay out for almost 2 full hours before captains Al and Audley decided it was time to turn in and make it back to shore before the storm hit the island. At that point we had yet to see any dolphins, but were hopeful that we may spot a few on the way back. Unfortunately, the dolphins never appeared for us. Instead we took a brief swim break to allow everyone to cool off and enjoy some good old fashion swim time, then headed back to shore just as the rain drops started falling.

Hopefully tomorrow we will have more cooperative weather and lots of dolphins!!!

Sayonara muchachos,
Amy, Alexis, & Kel

 
Our spotted wish came true!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 14:16

 

BIM14_T21_SfsAfter two exciting days of bottlenose dolphin encounters, it almost looked as though we’d have to stay inside today; a thunderstorm struck us in the hour before our scheduled boat trip. Magically, the sun came out just in the nick of time, and we headed out on calm seas to search for dolphins. An hour into our trip, at 16:14, we spied three spotted dolphins immediately ahead of us. As we approached, the three adult dolphins raced to ride the wake of our bow. Alexis recognized Split Jaw (#22, pictured here) among them. It was cool to see how much he’d changed since she’d seen him last, and even cooler that she still knew him! As we observed them from the surface, the dolphins stuck close to the boat, appearing to invite us for a swim. We jumped into the water expecting a leisurely encounter with just three dolphins, but once underwater we were delighted to discover a new group of at least 20 spotted dolphins joining us! In an instant we were surrounded by spotted dolphins - yesterday’s wish come true! As we observed them, we saw a lone bottlenose dolphin in their midst, who unsuccessfully tried to mate with a few spotteds (they’d have none of it!). The dolphins were in a playful mood, with one young spotted dolphin even leaping exuberantly into the air during our swim. With such a large group, we had ample chance to observe behavioral interactions. We documented jawing and tail slaps, but also observed dolphins swimming side-by-side with their pectoral fins overlapping as if holding hands. We stayed with this group, which included Prince William (#64) and Speedy (#78), for nearly two hours before the weather finally caught up with us and we were forced to turn in.

Never mind the threatening weather, we’re grateful for a perfect day on (and in) the water!

Cowabunga Dudes,

Amy, Alexis & Kel

 
Calm Seas & Curious Dolphins
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 19:32

 

BIM14_T20_TtMonday was the second day on the water for the summer interns and the conditions were perfect (calm and beautiful). We headed out of the Sea Crest a little after 15:00 and were about to take a gear check/snorkel stop for some of our new guests, when all of a sudden we saw a single bottlenose dolphin surfacing in between crater feeding spurts at the bottom of the ocean. Alexis managed to take a few surface photographs of the dolphin’s dorsal fin while the gear check commenced. Once the passengers were back on board we headed out in pursuit of a livelier bunch of dolphins! Almost an hour and a half later we spotted a group of approximately 10 bottlenose dolphins that seemed to be sticking around for us. Once geared up, we headed in to a fairly social and interactive group. We were able to have 2 encounters with these dolphins allowing Amy and Alexis to take underwater video, underwater still photographs and above water still photographs! The dolphins seemed more curious than normal coming very close and swimming in and out of our group. We spotted 2 relatively young individuals and what looked like an attempted nursing event (which Alexis thinks she may have gotten on video)! After a while the dolphins seemed less interested in us, so we hopped back on the boat and headed back toward Bimini hoping we may see some more along the way. We were almost back, when all of a sudden Alexis spotted 2-3 dolphins surfacing in the distance. Unfortunately it was getting late and the sun was going down, so we continued heading in.

Today was a great day. Now, Amy is praying to get an encounter with some spotteds tomorrow! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Over and out,
Alexis, Amy & Kel

 
Time to get wet!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 14 July 2014 19:53

 

BIM14_T19_Tt w spotsOn Sunday, Alexis and Amy eagerly boarded DCP’s boat for our first boat trip of the season! Only 20 minutes into the trip, we encountered a group of 15-20 bottlenose dolphins, including at least 3 calves. We hopped into the water and found that they were crater feeding on the sandy bottom, with a nurse shark lurking nearby (hoping for a handout, no doubt!). Although busy searching for food, the dolphins were inquisitive when surfacing, swimming within a foot of us and checking out our equipment with their eyes and sonar. We saw several distinctive individuals, including one with a stubby pectoral fin. We swam with them for about 20 minutes before returning to the boat to let them focus on their hunt for food.

At 18:20 we suddenly had 10 spotted dolphins riding our bow, including three calves. It was Amy’s first time seeing spotted dolphins, and she happily snapped photos from the bow, surprised by how small they were in comparison to the bottlenose dolphins we’d seen. Unfortunately the spotted dolphins didn’t stick around for long, so we weren’t able to get into the water to confirm identities.
After the boat trip, we headed back to the computers to check out the underwater photos from our swim with the bottlenose dolphins; Amy was relieved to find that she had taken usable shots as it had been her first time using an underwater camera. Here, you can see how many spots this bottlenose dolphin has! We're off to a good start and can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s boat trip brings. Hopefully our next group of spotted dolphins will allow us to join them for a swim!

Cowabunga Dudes,
Amy, & Alexis

 
A busy day off the water
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 01:29

 

BIM14_InternsDay1Although most of our field reports from Bimini revolve around boat trips searching for and observing dolphins, Monday was packed with land activities. The day began with a visit by Kel to the Coral Reef II (Shedd Aquarium). Kel visited with the first round of High School Marine Biology program participants and despite the early hour, the students were full of fantastic questions and insights. It was a struggle to wrap up after 90 minutes – we probably could have talked about dolphins all day! A huge thanks goes to the students as well as their instructors and, as always, the great boat crew.

Meanwhile, two of DCP’s 2014 summer interns were on their way south. It was Alexis’ and Amy’s first day in Bimini. For Alexis it was her first day back since August 2011 and boy was she happy to return to this beautiful little island. This was Amy’s very first time to The Bahamas, let alone Bimini, so today was an exciting day full of new sights and sounds. For both, the day began very early (3:40 and 4:20 am) leaving PA and NJ, respectively. We both arrived safe and sound to Florida; unfortunately Amy’s luggage did not seem to make the journey. Nonetheless, we met up at the airport and boarded our puddle jumper plane to Bimini. We were greeted on the island by a quick, but fierce, rain storm that passed, and then Kel and Miles! Once we settled into our new digs we began assembling brand spanking new intern bikes, yippee! Kel then briefed us on all the exciting tasks we have for the next few weeks. We ended the day with a delicious leftover dinner with Kel and Miles, followed by a beautiful sunset in our backyard! Aside from misplaced luggage, it has been a great start and we are super excited for the next few days!

Over and out,
Kel, Alexis & Amy

 
Mixed species show!
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 03:09

 

BIM14_T17_MixedSpOn Wednesday, I was thrilled to be headed into the dolphin grounds after so many days off the boat. Bimini Adventures had a group of ten and their smiling faces and good attitudes had us really hoping for a great day. The sun was shining and the breeze was just right….but, where were the dolphins? Oh, there they are!

We saw some biiiiig splashing and a few minutes later we reached a group of six dolphins: 2 bottlenose and 4 spotted. The two male bottlenose were in calm pursuit of the spotteds, giving us great views of their interactions at the surface. When the spotteds weren’t directly interacting with the bottlenose, they were bowriding. The group was moving too swiftly for an underwater observation, so we enjoyed the show from the boat. Soon, it was time to head back and the guests took this opportunity to give a dolphin swim a shot. They were not disappointed as the dolphins came right up to each of them!

A great day for some great guests!

Until next time,
Kel

 
Goodbye SHU
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 02:45

 

I find myself ready for a break after our field courses, as just about anyone would. But as I say goodbye to the students (and professors!), I mean it when I say I wish they weren’t going. Can’t we all just take a day off and then have the class start right up again?

I must extend a huge thank you to Dr. Yeater and her students. This group stayed focused and excited throughout their entire 12 night course. You were a pleasure to have and even though I might need a new hard drive just to store all the photos and videos you took (oh, what an awful problem!), I do hope each and every one of you had a positive experience. Our course wrapped up with a beach clean-up, free time to explore Bimini, a final photo-ID session, a dock-side BBQ with fellow hotel guests and a stop at Sherry’s Beach Bar. A fantastic finale to a fantastic course.

Until next time,
Kel

 
The last best day ever
Bimini 2014
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 02:42

 

On Friday, we discussed eco-tourism, including the benefits of helping people connect with the environment and animals, but that regulations must be in place (and enforced) to minimize the negative impacts. We reflected on how we have behaved as eco-tourists during this course. We realized how we all need to be reminded about our impacts; we are all interested and aware (and interested in becoming more aware), so as a group we are already interested in reducing our impact. For others, who may not be conscious of the environment while they travel, getting them to care may be more difficult. In addition to the environment, it is important to consider the impact on the local community and how your tourism can, and should, benefit them.  We looked to the scientific literature and learned about short and long-term effects of dolphin watching boats on certain bottlenose dolphins. We can use research to inform policy makers so that regulations are scientifically informed.

Then it was time to get out of the classroom for a bit and we headed to the Bimini Museum. We divided into three teams and went on a fact-finding mission. It is a quaint little museum, but it really is filled with a lot of local history. Some of the signs were in need of repair, but it was very informative. Next it was lunch – baked potatoes! – then a 1400 boat departure.

Our boat trip began with bottlenose dolphins. But, we decided to only observe them for a couple of minutes as we knew boats had been observing them all morning. We could tell just from the boat that there was at least one individual that we had already seen. Next, we made our way to the snorkel stop…the boat began to slow and we thought, “Oh, why are we stopping in the middle of nowhere?” It was an “ocean donut” – The Hesperus. This old barge sits on the sea floor with tons of fish! This artificial reef was a popular spot for barracuda and a few lionfish. At the edges of the sand, we saw a nurse shark and more southern stingrays. There were ocean triggerfish and of course, the wreck itself. We returned to the boat and headed home, keeping our eyes out for dolphins on the way. Aaaaand….off Bimini, we saw another group of bottlenose! This group of at least 11 bottlenose were busy traveling north. We didn’t get in the water, but hey, that’s research. We still got photo-ID photos and saw chin-slapping and side breaching. And after so many dolphins all course, we’re all happy!

Back on shore, we enjoyed (really, enjoyed) an authentic Bahamian dinner cooked by Ms. Stephie. Baked chicken, mac n cheese and peas n rice…mmmmm. We ended the night with a fun film, “We Bought A Zoo.” We should have bought tissues for this emotional rollercoaster, but the challenges surrounding animals in captivity and the message of enriching the lives of those animals fit well with previous course discussion.

Thanks for following,
“Cetacean Nation” (SHU 2014)

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 16
RocketTheme Joomla Templates