Tuesday was another day out on the water for DCP. Though it started off with data analysis and office work, like most other days, it took a different turn when it came time to go out on the water.
The wind was a bit strong, and so that called for rougher waters. However, Bimini Research manager Kel Melillo-Sweeting had enough faith in the interns to give them a crash course on how to collect underwater focal-follow video data. We hadn’t been out for very long when we came across a group of spotted dolphins. The best thing about this group of dolphins was that little by little new additions would join the group until by the end we had a total of 12 dolphins! There were plenty of little ones swimming around and being super playful and (seemingly) practicing the art of fluke slapping. Because, perhaps, the water was a bit choppier, the dolphins often leapt out of the water; it was especially amazing when two younger dolphins leapt together. All of the dolphins were riding the surf and the bow wake. The younger dolphins all seemed very excited, and would frequently flip upside down – perhaps to get a good look at the boat, but no matter why, we got a good view of their bright pink bellies. For the first couple underwater encounters, the dolphins were diving down, crater feeding and rubbing their bodies in the sand. Some were also playing with seagrass and rubbing their bodies all over that as well.
The water was getting a bit rougher and so we headed back closer to the island in the hopes that we would see another group of dolphins in calmer seas. Sure enough we happened upon another group of dolphins. This group was a bit smaller than the first; however, there were still plenty of dolphins around. Everyone was able to get in the water again and this last encounter lasted quite a while – almost 25 minutes! The dolphins were very interactive and would zip in and out of the group of people. It’s as if the dolphins were intrigued by the people in the water and everyone wanted to get a good look at the strange creatures with fins and masks!
Everyone hopped back on board with huge smiles on their faces! It was a great day with dolphins regardless of the rougher waters. The interns learned the difficulty of collecting underwater video data and by the end of the trip were feeling more comfortable collecting the data. We just can’t wait until we can try again and get better!
Until next time,
Salma, Nicole & Kel