Dolphin researchers at the shark lab?

So, today marked the end of the field portion of Coastal Ecosystems.  Around 12:00 the APU group headed over to the south island for a quick visit to Dr. Gruber’s “Shark Lab.”  This research center is the hub for shark work around Bimini.  Although they focus on lemon sharks, researchers here track many species of sharks and have a variety of on-going projects.  Bimini has a major mangrove network, which is home to many juvenile species of fish, including sharks.  The researchers here were able to give APU students a brief introduction to the diversity found in these waters as well as on-going and future research.  They also touched on the changes they have seen with the major development (and therefore mangrove destruction) on North Bimini.  Thanks Shark Lab!    Then it was back to the north island for me….It was sad to see my Professor and classmates go, but I hope they had a great time and I know I have a great season ahead of me.     Since I wasn’t able to attend this week’s Meet & Greet, I was eager to catch up with this week’s passengers before boat departure.  We have a few regulars and a few new faces, including a wonderful young woman and her family here as part of the Make-A-Wish foundation.  Everyone was very excited as we headed out to the dolphin grounds after a snorkel stop at Rainbow Reef.  At 16:00 we saw a group of 7 bottlenose and we watched this group for about 15 minutes.  At 16:43, we saw another group of bottlenose, this time including a few older calves!  We only stayed with this group until 16:50, hoping if we continued on, we would find spotteds.  And at 19:02, we did!  A group of 9 spotteds, including 3 calves, came to the boat.  The passengers entered the water, but I stayed behind to attempt to observe some intriguing surface behavior.  One of the calves was very small (< 6 months old).  It was being pushed to the surface by two adults.  It isn’t unusual for adults to play with calves, and dolphin play often involves some sort of touching or rubbing, but this seemed different.  So, I decided to stay onboard and observe- but, as soon as the passengers got in the water, the behavior stopped!  Go figure!    Ok, I better go.  This field report is getting long 😉    Until next time,  Kel