Today’s trip started off surprisingly with approximately 8 bottlenose dolphins. We were able to stay in the water with them for about 20 minutes. This is unusual for the bottlenose in this area, as they are generally uninterested in humans. We observed them crater feeding, a behavior that involves a dolphin echolocating on the sand and then burrowing its rostrum into the sand when it finds something of interest, usually a fish or an eel. One of the bottlenose had quite a bit of spotting on its belly. We are curious to know whether or not this points to bottlenose/spotted hybridization or if it is comparable to the Mikura Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, which have similar spots.
Once we left the bottlenose, it wasn’t long before we saw some splashes to the east and then came across a group of younger spotted dolphins. The young dolphin from last week (with the fresh injury, #77) was in the group with its mom, who we identified as DCP ID #48. We also saw “Shark Bite,” a young dolphin who the Bimini Undersea staff had seen earlier this summer, but we had yet to see. Overall, we spent 45 minutes in the water with this group of spotteds and look forward to going over the footage for more IDs and behavior notes. Another trip tomorrow!
Kathy, Kelly and Darcie