12 June 2017

Thank you, SHU!

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Wow, did that Sacred Heart University program fly by! On Tuesday, we had some group class time and visited the Bimini Museum. We broke into teams and had an information “scavenger hunt,” searching for the answers to questions that DCP provided. We let our friendly competitive streaks come out before heading back for lunch and our dolphin trip! 

The weather conditions continued to be challenging, Still, we were able to stop at “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis” or “Road to Atlantis”). After a short backstory on some of the interest in this particular snorkel site, we hopped in the water…to find pretty murky conditions. It was hard to see the rocks or the fish unless you dove down, and even then the visibility wasn’t great. So, it was a bit hard to see what all the fuss is about. We didn’t linger and were soon aboard the boat in search of dolphins. At 16:29 we came upon three Atlantic spotted dolphins – Nicole got a good look at the adult and thinks it might have been Cerra (#38), with an older calf and juvenile. We observed this group for 40 minutes. With their surfing behavior combined with the rough conditions, DCP and Captain Al decided that just Nicole would get in the water to see if she could get just enough video to help with photo-ID. But, before she could even get her gear on, the dolphins were gone. 

As we traveled toward home, still searching for dolphins, we were surprised by a bottlenose dolphin surfacing just next to the boat! Kel didn’t have time to grab the surface camera before the dolphin and its buddies were off in the other direction, but she does think that it was DCP ID#Tt06. 

On Wednesday, we couldn’t believe it was our last full day! Mid-morning, we headed to a small mangrove island just on the other side of the harbor channel. The sand was mushy under our feet and some of us were worried about the current, but DCP was happy to show the students some mangroves and small fish species up close (mangroves were briefly discussed during the online portion of the SHU course). Back on land, we grabbed lunch and prepared for our final dolphin trip. Unfortunately, the day was not meant to be a rousing finale – we battled the roughest seas yet to do an up-and-back check of the coastline for dolphins, but found none. At least we tried! And saw that field work doesn’t always go according to plan. 

Back at the hotel, we cleaned up and had a nice last night dinner: local pizza, fried fish, conch fritters and adult beverages! After a while, we headed to Big Game Club for another drink, braving some serious puddles do so! 

We were so happy to have the entire SHU crew here. Thank you for your interest and participation in our program! We hope you all look back fondly on your fast week in Bimini. And, a big thank you goes to Dr. Deirdre Yeater for working so hard to make this course happen and the Captain Al and everyone at the Sea Crest! 

On behalf of The Storm Troopers (SHU 2017),

Kel & Nicole

PS: Storm Troopers? Wondering where your blog post from Tuesday went? Ah! Computer crash! 

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

Kel is DCP's Bimini Research Manager, and all around awesome scientist.

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