Snakes, Sharks and (no) Dolphins, Oh, My!

On Sunday morning we headed to the South Bimini Nature Trail – we rode in a funky painted old school bus. We walked along the trail, learning all about the plants & animals. The highlight was holding the Bimini boa – well, for most of us. Luckily for the students uncomfortable with the snake, there were plenty of people to hide behind. The snake’s musk was hard to miss and we were surprised by the quality of its skin. There was also a large iguana and several small lizard species, including anoles and curly tails – the bright green lizard with bright red dewlap was really cool, as was the fight between two anoles. They seemed to be competing for a prime sunspot! Like most Bimini tours there was also cool pirate information along the way. After the Nature Trail we headed to the SharkLab. The staff & volunteers had been working on a field project for the last 15 hours, so most were resting, away from our tour. This tour was really interesting and we got to see a baby lemon shark up close. The researchers think the shark was less than a year old, although you cannot age a shark while it is alive. Shark birth is like ours and very different all at the same time – individual umbilical cords, multiple fathers; and the researchers are studying their genetics. In fact, researchers at the Lab are studying all sorts of things, including basic personality (behavioral responses) in lemon sharks, which tied in nicely with Dr. M’s talk yesterday. So far there seems to be a difference between age classes, but less so at an individual level. We were able to touch the young lemon: Its skin was very cool – smooth in one direction, and rough in another. We had all been in the sun for a long time, so we climbed back aboard the ferry and headed back to North Bimini. After a chance to cool off, we had lunch and prepared for the boat.

We departed the dock at about 14:30 and more students learned the DCP data sheet. Although we looked very hard, the dolphins were nowhere to be seen. On the ride home, going into the wind, things got wet on the bow – but anyone who heard our laughter knew we were enjoying it. It was the sunniest day we’ve had yet, so some of us returned for dinner with more sunburn than we’d planned. After dinner, we reviewed our Bimini Museum trivia. Although we enjoyed the conversation the questions prompted, we would have failed if it were a quiz! It was cool how a lot of the stories include family stories from our captain, Al.

We headed to bed early and are staying positive that we’ll see more dolphins tomorrow!

Until then, “Bobby & The Bimini Babes” (SHU 2013)