“We’re on a boat….”

After our morinng discussions on research methods and photo-ID work, we headed to the boat. We met two British tourists and because of their addition, we completed our dolphin survey on a larger vessel. We saw our first group of spotted dolphins at 16:29. There were 12 animals in this group, including Billy (#64) and Nemo (#76). We were able to get in the water this group and observe some mating behavior! These behaviors were among three juveniles, so is considered socio-sexual play. The dolphins circled us and it was the first time that all of us had the chance to see the dolphins underwater.  At 17:36 the dolphins had lost interest and we headed back to the boat.

Our second sighting was at 17:53 and included 2 spotted dolphins, but it was only a quick glimpse. As we began to lose some of the group to seasickness, we continued our search. Our third sighting was 18:11 and included 6 spotted dolphins, including Finn (#09), Lil’ Jess (#35) and 4 adults. At 18:23, three of us went into the water. It was amazing! We saw vertical hanging from multiple adults – it seemed like they were posing for us! It was a great opportunity for collecting still photos that we will work on ID’ing over the next week. We also observed some bottom-grubbing (aka crater feeding) and what appeared to be play as the dolphins were holding each other down on the sand. Our captain was also in the water and free-diving to the bottom. The dolphins seemed very interested in this and followed him throughout the water column. They stayed with us until 18:43. Once we were back on the boat, we thought we were done for the day. As we headed back to shore we had our fourth sighting at 18:52. This group did a lot of bowriding as we did not have time to stop to observe them. In this group, we saw Swoosh (#36), Nemo (#76) and Leslie (#80). There were two calves in the group so we’re very hopefully that one is Swoosh’s calf – that she had last year. At 19:00 they left us as we continued to head home.

Back at the hotel, we had a nice BBQ on the dock and shared our stories of the day. The best part? It was mosquito free thanks to the east wind. We had worked up an appetite on the boat and made quite a dent in the food – even the giant mound of pasta salad.

More tomorrow,

The SHU Crew