Adventures with Bimini’s Bottlenose Dolphins II

Tuesday was a full day for DCP! We started off with a quick meeting, debriefing from yesterday. Then we headed to a Q&A session with the high school BIM13_T23_Ttstudents from yesterday’s & today’s dolphin trips. We introduced ourselves and DCP, then let the kids ask questions to their hearts’ content; they were very eager and inquisitive and we answered the various questions that the kids threw at us. Topics varied from dolphins to sharks to just ocean preservation and conservation as a whole. The kids were really interested in learning all they could. We ended the almost two hour talk with some general college and course advice for the kids and how to learn more about the field of marine mammalogy. Then we ran back to get some lunch in us before we left on our afternoon dolphin trip.

Today was the second consecutive day we were able to go on the water! We started off the boat trip by going out to the Three Sisters, a popular snorkeling site on the island. While we did not see any dolphins there, we did see some really cool parrot fish, squirrel fish, and sergeant majors. We also admired all the pretty coral and sea fans.

After our snorkel, we hopped back on board to look for dolphins. We didn’t look very long before we spotted some bottlenose dolphins. We observed them for a little while before we figured out that they were crater feeding, and so if we hoped they would let us observe them while they snacked. Watching the dolphins crater feed was absolutely amazing. When the dolphins dig their rostrums in the sand you can hear a maraca or rattlesnake-like sound, which is the sound of the sand being shifted around by the dolphins. If you look down at the sandy seafloor, it really looks like the surface of the moon with all the craters in there! We observed at least six dolphins total. A few seemed a bit shyer than the other dolphins, but for the most part they all stayed in the same general area. The dolphins also were engaged in some very social contact behaviors. We think we had a group of some fairly young dolphins on our hands. The interns think that they saw a mother-calf pair feeding, because two dolphins were seen in close proximity to one another for the majority of the encounter. It was unexpected to have had such wonderful experiences with the bottlenose dolphins two days in a row; regularly observing them is a treat, and so we were really thankful!

After that amazing experience, we hopped back on board and continued our search for some more dolphins. We happened by a group of four spotted dolphins, but like yesterday, they were doing their own thing, and so we weren’t able to get in the water with them today. However, we did observe them from the boat for quite some time, and boy did they look playful! One dolphin was seen playing with a bundle of sargassum near the boat. It seemed to be getting really riled up, because its belly had a faint pink hue to it!

All in all, today was another great day out on the water and we can’t wait to get back out there. Salma & Nicole seem to be getting the hang of recording data on the boat, and acquiring our sea legs!

Until next time,
Salma, Nicole & Kel