Bimini Dolphin Research

Report # 11

Seven trips had been scheduled for this week but two had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. A trough has brought us much rain and wind this past week; this is still the case as I am writing this report. Wind direction was out of the southwest and wind speeds remained between 7-15 knots causing wave height to range between 2-5 feet for this week. Of the five survey trips, two resulted in no sightings. Tuesday's afternoon trip was initiated at noon since severe thunderstorms were expected in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we did not sight dolphins until 3:30 p.m. ( 3 spotters; 2 adults and one calf ), and as predicted, a severe thunderstorm was approaching us from the west, so we were forced to return to harbor and were not able to attempt an in-water encounter. On Thursday, we had a morning and afternoon survey trip. During the morning we had an unusual sighting of one spotted calf/juvenile (age class 2/3) dolphin. This dolphin had no spots on it and yet it was sighted with no companions for a period of 2.5 hours. This young spotted male dolphin was first sighted at 10:12 a.m. when it approached our bow and bowrided with us (boat speed was ~ 5 knots) some 3 miles towards the Northeast while we continued to search for the rest of his pod; as no other dolphins were sighted we decided to attempt an in-water encounter with him. The encounter lasted over an hour, in which the lone male swam around people at no less than 1.5 meters (4 feet) and always remained close to the surface. After the encounter was over (it was time to return to harbor), the young spotter bowrided with us again (this time boat speed was 10 knots) for almost 4 miles. We lost sight of it when we stopped the boat just before leaving the survey area. The afternoon trip on this day resulted in a sighting of 3 bottlenose, which allowed us to observe them crater-feeding for 40 minutes, and a sighting of 16 spotters, which allowed us to observe them mating during two short, separate encounters (each encounter about 10 minutes). As a reminder, we are working with Bill and Nowdla Keefe's Bimini Undersea (their dive boats and dolphin trips) for our research vessels. We are based on Bimini and go out about five miles or so from the island to search for dolphins. Until next week, Xenia