We began Tuesday with a discussion of last night’s movie and the concept of “play.” We moved onto a talk about the senses of dolphin senses. Some videos were shown illustrating different behaviors of several dolphin species. Our long lost, fellow classmate arrived just in time for some more photo-ID. We were able to confirm that Tim (ID#69) was present during Sunday’s observations.
We left the dock at 1529. On our way out of the harbor, some of us spotted an eagle ray cruising north. At 1704 we had our first sighting of six Atlantic spotted dolphins. The group size gradually increased to 12. The first group of students (+Kel) entered the water at 1713. The dolphins were in a playful mood engaging in different behaviors such as chasing, pec rubbing, leaping and corkscrewing. A nurse shark was spotted moving along the bottom. The encounter ended at 1729. The group got in the water at 1739, but the dolphins were not in sight so the group returned to the boat without any observations. The same group of humans re-entered the water at 1752 when another group of dolphins (including 2 older calves/young juvenile and adults) were coming and going. The 2 youngsters were practicing making a bait ball in which they consistently surrounding the school of fish and took turns diving into the ball. With the dolphins not actually feeding on the fish, this behavior could be taking as a “practice round” in an attempt to develop better foraging abilities. The humans returned to the boat at 1814.
More students entered the water 1825 with a different group of dolphins (more spotteds). There was synchronized movement, surfing, fluke slapping, sand rubbing, crater feeding and more – including quite a bit of defecation. Also to note, there was a lot of vocalization and echolocation. This encountered ended at 1846. Back on the boat, the dolphins were still close by, bowriding. While observing this, we noticed one of the younger dolphins had a serious injury in which the top of the dorsal fin was, well, missing. The sighting ended at 1853. At the end of the sightings, Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), Lil’ Jess (#35) and White Blotch (#29) were positively ID’s. We returned to the dock at 2017, some of us with “war wounds” from the various stinging organisms!