Our morning class time was spent discussing interspecific interactions, particular between Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the northern Bahamas and here in Bimini. It was nice to hear about a specific study that was going on right here at our study site. When reviewing our pictures from Monday’s boat trip, we confirmed a re-sighting of Cleopatra (#41). It took us some time to get the ID right, but by looking at our very recent pictures (instead of the photo-ID catalog) we were able to confirm it. The rest of our photographs were of calves, with no re-identifiable markings.
Our boat began with a second visit to “3 Sisters” and we saw a sea turtle as we approached the rocks. The tide was lower this time, which gave us a closer look at the huge schools of fish. The weather was very calm and we enjoyed our time, even if one of us returned with a battle wound ;-). We saw parrot fish, a blue tang, doctorfish, schoolmaster snappers, a banded butterflyfish and an unidentified purple fish.
We headed out to the “dolphin grounds.” What do we say next? Our sighting began at 17:09 and didn’t end until 19:07 – when we left the dolphins, cold, tired and with memory cards full. We had five different water entries, all with dolphins in view. From the boat we were able to ID Split Jaw (#22), White Blotch (#29), Billy (#64), Leslie (#80), Tilly (#87), un-named # 78, 79, 84 and possibly Tina (#14). We saw lots of object play, especially among the juveniles. They passed seaweed between them and chased the remora! Of course, before we knew the remora was a remora, we were a bit concerned it was a mysterious shark! We also saw lots of active pec rubbing and even heard a jaw clap! As usual, there was sexual play and we were intrigued by a group of younger dolphins investigating the belly of a possibly pregnant adult. One calf/juvenile in particular, with major scars on the dorsal fin, was very curious about us. By the end of the day all of our memory cards were filled up, and were worn out (one sunburned) so we have a lot of pictures to sort and video to watch tomorrow.
Back at the dock, it was time for our Thanksgiving dinner and sleep.
One dolphin to go!
The SHU Crew