Our First Day at Dolphin Encounters

We arrived at Dolphin Encounters (DE) in Nassau, Bahamas, with camera and hydrophone in hand, not knowing exactly what to expect. This was DCP’s first time working with this facility and we were sent in on behalf of DCP and Mystic Aquarium. It worked out well, considering Bimini’s proximity to Nassau and provided us, as research interns, with exposure to a different type of field work. Joining us this week is another intern, Kristine Sonstrom, who has been working with Dr. Peter Scheifele from the University of Connecticut.
    The trainers were very accommodating to our needs, allowing us to accomplish everything we had set out to do. The facility is home to a total of 16 animals, although this will soon be 18, as two of the females are very pregnant! As of now, there are 8 females and 8 males, kept separate from one another with the exception of young male Goombay, who is only 9 months old and therefore still with his mother, Dot. There are a total of 5 sea pens and the dolphins are occasionally moved between them to accommodate the facility’s programs and allow them time to rest. DE offers “swim-with” and “encounter” programs four times a day for their guests. When we weren’t focused on the dolphins, we enjoyed observing guests’ reactions–and even our own sometimes!
    Our objectives include: gathering ambient noise recordings using a hydrophone and DAT recorder; underwater video and acoustic recordings with the MVA1; and still images of the dolphins for identification purposes. Today we spent time getting a handle on things and were able to get morning, afternoon and late afternoon ambient noise recordings as well as 1 hour of underwater video. We also made our daily phone call to Mystic Aquarium’s Dolphin Immersion program, which went very well.
    Up early tomorrow morning in order to catch the 7:30 ferry to Blue Lagoon, where DE is located. We hope tomorrow goes just as well!

Until then,
Kathy, Kelly, Darcie and Kristine